Transylvania, Iceland, St Helena and Waiheke Island don’t share many things in common, but according to Lonely Planet, they are all top spots for visiting. Waiheke Island, in fact, was named fifthtop region in the world in 2016 and fourth top island in the world in 2015 by Lonely Planet and one of the world’s Top 20 islands by Conde Nast Traveller in 2016. Unfortunately, the whole global tourism thing is taking a bit of a break but luckily, we still have one global tourist hotspot in our own backyard.
Just 35 minutes from Auckland, Waiheke Island has pristine beaches, world class wineries and stunning cuisine. Like any world-class tourism hotspot, Waiheke Island is many things to many people and there are a few ways to explore and enjoy it. Fullers360 Experiences and Cruises have been looking after the Hauraki Gulf for the last 35 years and know how to get the very best out of the region.
1.Hop To It
Waiheke Island is actually quite a large land mass with different regions, so to truly explore all it has to offer, you are going to need some transport. The most flexible and cost-effective way to experience the island’s top spots has to be the Hop-on Hop-off bus tour, which you can combine with your ferry ticket to give you the full package.
Explore the island at your own pace; hop off at one of the 16 stops including vineyards, beaches and seaside villages which are full of galleries, shops and cafés, at your own pace or stay on for a scenic 1.5-hour loop tour of the island. The Hop-on Hop-off bus runs Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday with a one or two day option for those visiting over the weekend.
2. SummerWine & Dine
As well as some of the world’s most beautiful scenery, Waiheke boasts some of the world’s best wine and food. Enjoy them all with a Fullers360 Summer Wine & Dine package from just $125 per person including coach transfers for lunch or dinner.
Choose from one of seven unique Waiheke restaurants, which also include either a glass of wine or a wine tasting. Sailing departs for lunch at 12pm and for dinner at 5pm. After an afternoon or evening of indulgence, cruise back to the mainland by ferry. The coach returns you to meet the 4.30pm (lunch) or 9.30pm (dinner) sailings.
3. The Best of Both
Combine a Hop-on Hop-off Bus pass with a return ferry ticket and lunch with the Fullers360 Waiheke Explorer Plus lunch package from just $93. Upon arrival at the Matiatia Wharf, you’ll grab the Explorer Hop-on Hop-off bus, which will tour around the island to any of 16 stops including your selected lunch or wine tastings. Sailings to meet the Explorer bus depart Auckland every 60 minutes from 9am on Thursday and Friday, and every 30 minutes from 9am on Saturday and Sunday.
Choose from either a lunch at one of three local eateries, with your choice of beer or wine, options from fish and chips to café dining, or wine tasting at three top vineyards. Children’s meal options are available.
After a day exploring Waiheke, cruise back to the mainland by ferry. The last tour finishes at Matiatia ferry terminal at 6:30pm to meet the 7pm departing ferry to Auckland.
For further pricing information, visit fullers.co.nz.