12 October 2017

NZ Travel Diary: Waiheke Island

On our third day in Auckland and the 12th day of our backpacking trip, we packed our rucksacks and took the Fullers Ferry from Auckland to Waiheke Island, a short 40 min ferry trip, for a two night stay. Waiheke Island is famous for the vineyards, with several located all around the island. It is always home to several beaches, a large regional park and of course lots of hiking trails. A return ticket to Waiheke costs around $37 return each, with ferries usually running once an hour.

We decided to book an airbnb in Waiheke Island, which was around the same price as a hostel.
Our Airbnb was a 20 minute bus ride from the Ferry, in a completely residential area. Although we enjoyed our stay, we both sadly agreed that the trip was more trouble than it was worth, which is mostly due to us.

If you plan on visiting Auckland and are interested in visiting Waiheke Island, make sure when you go you rent a car, buy a hop on hop off bus ticket, or rent a bike. Do NOT do it on foot as we did. Waiheke is a very hilly place, which makes it quite tiring to cover on foot. It took us hours to cover barely 10km. Every thing is on a hill, and since we were a bit further inland, we had to trek everywhere because a one way bus ticket costs $3.50 each. This means $7 a day, and when you throw in a meal and a drink, your daily spend is a lot higher than intended.

Since we did everything on foot, walking there then taking a bus back, we actually didn't get to see as much of the Island as we had hoped. We did however see several lovely beaches, such as Palm Beach & Oneroa Beach, we hiked part of the Regional Park and had a lovely vegetarian Nachos in Oneroa village. I need to mention the birds on the island. Never have I heard such beautiful bird songs, even at 6 o'clock in the morning. They were beautiful enough to rival those I hear at home in the summer, which is saying a lot. It's one of those experiences that you can only experience on the other side of the planet. Hearing unknown bird songs & seeing unfamiliar plants & trees.

Day we left, we woke up at 5am to catch the 6am bus, which would allow us to take the 7am ferry and arrive back in Auckland before 8am as we had a 9am bus to catch (it was our first Kiwi Experience hop-on, so we couldn't miss it!). Of course, the 7am ferry was cancelled which left us both in a very stressful, 2 hour, are-we-going-to-make-in-time mode. Luckily, we both managed to run with our huge rucksacks (an extra 16kg each) through Auckland city centre and got to the bus stop 30 seconds before our Kiwi Experience bus showed. I can not express just how relieved we were that we didn't mess up our very planned out itinerary!

 So, yes, visit Waiheke Island when in Auckland, but rent a car do a bus tour. You can probably cover most of the Island in a day, an your body will thank you for it! Holly & I were both exhausted during our whole stay, but we loved the beaches we visited.

As I type this, we are in Rotorua for 2 more nights before hopping back on the bus to Taupo. The past few days have been so surreal and overwhelming, particularly seeing the Shire in the flesh & exploring a cave in Waitomo in a wetsuit on a rubber ring (coolest thing I have EVER done). So today we are taking it easy, writing a few posts before we move on our to our next adventure.

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