Waiheke Island is definitely a must-do while in Auckland. It is a stunningly beautiful island, just 45-minutes by ferry from downtown Auckland. Filled with gorgeous wineries where you can sample locally produced wines and beers, and enjoy some delicious food. If you’re visiting Waiheke Island with kids there are many family-friendly activities to enjoy. From enjoying some delicious food in the beautiful Waiheke wineries, to swimming in clear blue waters, to adrenalin activities – Waiheke is a great destination for families.
Getting to Waiheke Island
Getting to Waiheke Island from Auckland city takes approximately 45 minutes by ferry. There are a few different points that you can catch the ferry from; Auckland downtown, Devonport and Halfmoon Bay. Sealink and Fullers 360 are the ferry companies that operate from these ports. Follow the links for the ferry times.
The ferries from Auckland downtown and Devonport take you to Matiatia and the ferries from Halfmoon Bay take you to Kennedy point.
Getting around Waiheke Island
By car is one option. You can take your car over on the car ferries that depart from Auckland City and Half Moon Bay. The price is around $125 for a car and $24 for adult each way.
By bus – The public bus is an excellent way of getting around the island. The buses are really regular and stop at all the popular points. You just need to buy at AT Hop card either in Auckland or when you get off the ferry. They have a counter at Matiatia ferry terminal where you can purchase and top up the card. At the moment fares are half price making it a very economical way to see Waiheke.
There are also hop on hop off bus tours that take you around the island and various winery hopping tours.
Where to stay on Waiheke Island
Camping – There is only one campsite on Waiheke – Poukaraka Flats campground in Whakanewha Regional Park. We stayed there a few years ago and it’s set in a gorgeous secluded location in a little bay. It has great facilities including a toilet and shower block, and BBQs.
Holiday homes – There are a wide variety of holiday homes available to book all year round in Waiheke. From beachfront apartments to small lodges in the bush, there is something for everyone.
Things to do on Waiheke Island
Waiheke has a lot to offer. The wineries are one of the biggest draws but there is a lot more to see and do in Waiheke from the stunning beaches, fantastic walks and adventure activities, there is something for everyone. There is plenty to do when visiting Waiheke Island with kids.
With around 30 wineries scattered around the island, you are spoilt for choice. You can choose to visit one or several on your visit, each has something different to offer. Several companies offer winery tours or you can do it yourself. Maps are available from the ferry terminals or the tourist information office.
For families with young children, I highly recommend Wild on Waiheke. They have a playground, trampoline and other games to keep children entertained while the parents can enjoy a relaxing glass of wine. The wine and the food are excellent. They also have organised activities such as archery and clay pigeon shooting – ideal for large groups.
A newer family-friendly option, is The Heke, a restuarant, brewery and distillery set in beautiful gardens. It is very kid-friendly with a giant inflatable jumping pillow and mud kitchen.
Cable Bay Vineyard is set in a stunning location with spectacular views. It is a little less child-friendly but not to say they are not welcome. As far as I know they don’t have a children’s menu.
Waiheke boasts stunning beaches. Some are smaller and more secluded and others are larger with great facilities.
Oneroa beach, just down the hill from the main town, is a small beach in a gorgeous bay. Further along at the eastern end of the beach is Little Oneroa beach, a small secluded beach with all the facilities you need.
Onetangi beach is much bigger and is perfect for swimming or other water-based activities. There are some great bars near the beach to for a drink or bite to eat. In February/March each year, the Onetangi beach races take place on the beach. We went a few years ago and it is a really fun and exciting event to be a part of.
Palm beach is a lovely little beach with a children’s playground in the middle section which also has a free BBQ area, public toilets and an outdoor public shower. At the far western side of the beach there is a clothes optional section for nude swimming and sunbathing.
Other activities on Waiheke Island
Ecozip Adventures – I haven’t tried this one yet but is on my bucket list! This zipline and forest adventure experience looks really fun. There is no age limit but kids have to be at least 30kg so I’m waiting for mine to grow a bit before we can do this.
The company will pick you up from the ferry terminal, give you a guided tour before you arrive at EcoZip HQ. You will then take to the skies on their unique giant ziplines. A guided forest walk is also part of the experience.
If you’re visiting Waiheke Island with kids you will have such a memorable time and it is definitely a must do activity while you are in Auckland. For more ideas of things to do in Auckland check out the best things to do in Auckland for families.
For more guides on amazing New Zealand destinations check out the New Zealand page.