City living has its allure. Ever-bustling with its bright lights and big crowds, it’s not hard to get caught up in the ceaseless pace, but the counterpoint to this is in seizing those moments to reclaim your inner peace by making the most of the lulls amidst the frenetic pace.
Embracing the constant ebb and flow of urban existence is something that Fullers360 has meticulously honed when it comes to getting from A to B, especially when it comes to a cluster of unique destinations that are so close to the hustle and bustle of the city, yet a world away. A case in point is the breathtaking Waiheke Island – the jewel in the Hauraki Gulf’s crown and voted as Auckland’s best day out, nestled just a 40-minute cruise away from Downtown Auckland. With its 92 square kilometres of pristine beaches, stunning coastal headlands, seaside villages, and an abundance of world-class wineries, olive groves, and top-notch dining, Te Motu-arai-roa, meaning “the long sheltering island”, has rightfully earned its place among the top island escapes of the world.
To help you find that peace amid the hustle and bustle, you would be remiss not to take Fullers360 up on their special off-peak offering that will whisk you away to this premium destination without the crowds for a mere $29.50 return, being half the price of the normal fare. Available seven days a week, your off-peak tickets to this veritable island paradise just a stone’s throw from Auckland City can either be purchased online or in person at any Fullers360 ticket office.
What’s more, this special off-peak ticket provides ample flexibility, allowing you to travel from downtown Auckland to Waiheke Island from 1:00 pm onwards and return from the island to downtown Auckland from 7:00 pm onwards.
Setting foot on Waiheke Island opens a plethora of world-class experiences. Whether it be immersing yourself in the rich culture of the island’s vineyards, known for producing some of New Zealand’s finest wines, indulging in culinary delights, wandering scenic trails, or discovering unique shopping experiences, there’s something for all tastes and budgets on Waiheke.
Culinary enthusiasts are spoilt for choice with a diverse array of dining options. From casual beachside affairs such as Waiheke institution Charlie Farley’s in Onetangi to gourmet meals at award-winning restaurants, Waiheke offers a gastronomic journey to satiate every palate. Oneroa Village boasts charming cafés and takeaway options, while internationally-awarded extra virgin olive oil can be sampled at the likes of Allpress Olive Groves. For seafood lovers, trying the locally farmed delicacy that is Te Matuku Oysters is a must at dining institutions such as Matt Lambert’s The Lodge Bar or Josh Emmett’s The Oyster Inn.
Nature enthusiasts can revel in Waiheke Island’s stunning walking tracks, showcasing the native flora and fauna, and awe-inspiring coastal vistas. The 8.2-kilometre Southern Walk with sweeping views back to Auckland city and over the Hauraki Gulf takes you from Matiatia Ferry Terminal to some of Waiheke Island’s most sought-after destinations, including Mudbrick Restaurant and Vineyard, Cable Bay Vineyards, and Oneroa Village. The shorter Northern Walk, also starting from Matiatia Ferry Terminal, offers a diverse track that leads you to Cable Bay, Owhanake Bay, and Oneroa Village, ultimately completing a rewarding loop back to Matiatia – perfect for those wanting to see Waiheke but preferring not to stray too far from Oneroa and the ferry terminal. These trails and more, are ever popular for birding, hiking, and walking, but you are guaranteed to enjoy some solitude during quieter times of day.
Should you feel the desire to shop till you drop, Oneroa, Ostend, and Surfdale will no doubt fulfill your retail therapy needs. These vibrant retail therapy destinations house unique stores brimming with local art, gifts, ceramics, jewellery, clothing, and more. A stroll on Waiheke’s pristine beaches is also not out of the question during the colder months, a prospect buoyed by the island’s slightly warmer microclimate across the year than Auckland. Try Oneroa Bay and Little Oneroa, which are both within walking distance of the main village. The iconic Onetangi Beach with its sparkling white sand is the perfect spot to take a pause in some natural beauty combined with the opportunity to discover the must-visit bars and restaurants along the water’s edge.
Getting around the island is also a breeze, courtesy of Fullers360’s various transport options. For those seeking freedom and autonomy, car hire is available, allowing you to explore the island at your own leisure. Alternatively, the Hop-On Hop-Off Explorer Bus* presents a flexible and convenient way to discover Waiheke on your terms. Meeting each ferry on arrival Wednesday through Sunday, the bus stops at 17 locations, including popular vineyards, beaches, and restaurants. Public transport is also readily accessible, with most services conveniently connecting with ferry arrival and departure times. For cycling enthusiasts, you can traverse the island’s picture-postcard landscapes on a mountain bike or e-bike, experiencing the beauty of Waiheke in a slightly breezier fashion.
The art of navigating the peaks and troughs of urban living aside, perhaps the best thing about travelling during the off-peak lulls is just how personal it feels. Time away in the lulls is elevated with intimate dining experiences, peaceful beaches, and drawcard destinations sans the crowds, all resulting in a truly memorable, less frenetic, and fulfilling experience – of the no-elbows-required sort.
*Hop-On-Hop-Off Explorer bus passes are purchased separately to your Fullers360 off-peak ferry tickets.