The sun was shining, the sea was shimmering, the weather was simply stunning – we couldn’t have picked a better day to go sailing to Waiheke, an island in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand and one of the New York Times‘ must-see travel destinations of 2013.
A birthday treat from my fiancé, this was to be one of those remarkable New Zealand days that go on to highlight the entire summer.
We arrived at 8.30am, we set sail at 9am and we arrived at Waiheke Island at 12am.
In between, we captured amazing images of Auckland city’s attractive skyline, we watched penguins lazily floating in the Hauraki Gulf and we even had a go steering the ship – a 50ft (15m) yacht called the Pride of Auckland.
Upon arrival at Waiheke Island you can catch a bus into Oneroa, Waiheke’s largest settlement, hire a car or walk. Via foot, it takes just 20mins to walk up hill into the village – which may be quicker than waiting for a bus, depending on your arrival time and the frequency of the island’s bus service.
We walked into Oneroa, where we had an excellent lunch at a restaurant with views over the water, before going for a lazy paddle at a nearby beach, followed of course by ice-cream.
Much later, we caught the Fullers ferry back to downtown Auckland – it was quicker but not nearly as much fun as the sailing experience.
A piece of paradise on Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf, Waiheke has the little-known distinction of being New Zealand’s third most populated island – after the North Island and the South.
But that isn’t to say that it’s a busy place. If life moves a bit slower in New Zealand in general, it moves really slowly on Waiheke Island, where you’ll find sleepy little villages (primarily on the western end of the island) that are well-stocked with the essentials (tourist shops, convenience stores, etc.) and not much else.
The island has many lovely New Zealand beaches, of course, but what it’s most famous for is its vineyards, of which there are many. Wine tasting and tours of the island’s vineyards are popular tourist activities on Waiheke Island.
New Zealand is undoubtedly a sailing nation. From Cape Reinga at the tip of the North Island to Bluff at the ass-end of the South, you’re never very far from either a lake or the sea. As a result, opportunities for boating trips abound.
In Auckland, a boat trip to Waiheke Island is among the best things to do on a sunny day.
You can see for yourself, in the pictures above, that New Zealand’s largest city is best viewed from the water, preferably by yacht.
They don’t call Auckland the City of Sails for nothing and it is definitely worth flying to Auckland, especially during the hot season.