If you ever find yourself in Auckland, New Zealand a trip to Waiheke Island is a must do. This is a great destination with or without kiddies. Waiheke is filled with vineyards, olive groves, beaches, and cute towns dotting the island.
Travel: You can reach Waiheke Island via a 35 minute passenger ferry ride from downtown Auckland for around $10NZD per person (Fullers). There is also a vehicular ferry that operates from Half Moon Bay marina in east Auckland (Sealink). There are several “tours” you can join from Auckland, but we chose to go independently so we had the freedom we wanted with our tot. The boat ride itself was a hit with our daughter!
Arrival: We chose to hire a car once we landed in Waiheke. There is a rental car company located directly across from the pier where you disembark the ferry, Waiheke Auto Rentals. We chose this rental company due to the convenience!
Hotel: We chose to visit Waiheke Island as a day trip from Auckland, and returned to Auckland the same day. If you are interested in staying a bit longer, there are a few inns or I would highly recommend checking out http://www.bookabach.co.nz which is the New Zealand equivalent of homeaway. We have rented houses thru bookabach twice with lovely experiences.
Logistics: Navigating Waiheke is easy, but some form of transport is definitely needed with a toddler. Some people choose to hike, bike, or scooter around the island which are also options available. If walking, you will only be able to cover a portion of the island but we saw lots of people doing this as there is a heavy concentration of vineyards near the terminal.
Activities: Wild on Waiheke: This was our favorite winery/brewery with our daughter. It is very kid friendly with lots of activities and green space. There is a small play gym for children, large bean bags and seating outdoors, archery, claybird shooting, and ducks that our tot chased thru the vineyard rows. The setting was beautiful, and the tasting plates were fantastic. We ordered pizza for our daughter, and it was a big hit! We spent several hours lounging here.
Mudbrick Vineyard: This vineyard is stunning with amazing views of the water and surrounding landscapes with Auckland city scape in the distance. It is also beautifully cared for with several outdoor dining terraces. This vineyard is a bit more lavish than our previous recommendation, but worth the visit. Our daughter enjoyed running around the garden terrace that had several steps, tables, and lavender!
Little Oneroa Beach & Playground: This little playground is located on a scenic beach on Waiheke with a general beach store selling fish & chips, coffees, ice creams and general grocery goods next door. The beach is good for swimming or wading. There is a grassy area, picnic tables, and a free barbequing facility. The playground is nicely equipped and was enjoyed by our 18 month old. We stopped off here for some free time before heading back to Auckland on the ferry.
Onera Town: Onera is the main little town on Waiheke Island. There are cute shops, markets, ice cream parlors, and restaurants. We chose to enjoy lunch at the Solar Eating House in town. This café has great windows with massive views of the water, and we really enjoyed the food. They also have a little sitting area with a basket full of children’s books and stuffed animals which was a nice touch!
There are several other vineyards on Waiheke (award winning too) that we did not visit due to their location, etc. We wanted to take time to enjoy the island with our daughter in tow instead of driving for the majority of the day. However, if you have the time or have tots that enjoy car riding each vineyard has green space and most are equipped with activities for kids. We hope you enjoy a visit to Waiheke as much as we did!