Waiheke Island, New Zealand.
A perfectly pristine getaway only 30 minutes from the hustle and bustle of Auckland’s CBD (plus a bonus a relaxing boat ride to get there)!
[photos by The Official Photographers]
Waiheke Island lies almost in the middle of the Hauraki Gulf, East of Auckland’s CBD. It is the most populous of the islands in the gulf with a residential population of ~8,000 that rises to ~13,000 in the Summer. Known for its wines, beaches and stunning scenery it is no wonder the Island just about packs-out each year for the months of February and March as one of the Top-5 wedding locations in New Zealand.
If you follow me on social media or subscribe to my mailing list you’ll know that I recently had the most amazing time on Waiheke Island celebrating the wedding of a dear, long-time friend! While I’ll share a bit about the wedding in this post I hope to convey that, weddings aside, Waiheke is a gorgeous location for a relaxing holiday or day-trip when in Auckland!
While I don’t want to go on too much about the amazing wedding between Amanda and Tash that I had the privilege of being a part of, I do want to show you all what a stunning location Waiheke Island is for such an event!Tash and Amanda awoke on the morning of 25th February 2016, their wedding day, to a cloudless sky and crystal clear turquoise seas. Before the day got ahead of them, the couple attended a private sunrise yoga and guided meditation on Palm Beach with Premaloka from the Breathing Space. Something they both highly recommend for all couples on the day that they begin the rest of their lives together.
As part of one of Amanda’s bridal party, I spent the morning getting ready at a property overlooking stunning Oneroa Beach where the team from Lipstick & Co. made us all feel and look absolutely beautiful! Mint-green was the colour-du-jour for the bridesmaids dresses and groomsmen’s bow-ties, while the suits worn by the groomsmen were a perfect greyish-blue. Tash wore an indigo suit with fitted, straight-legged pants while Italian lace dowsed Amanda’s dress all the way from her shoulders down to the small, but appropriate-length, train behind her.
The ceremony itself was held at the Northern end of Oneroa Beach (boat ramp end) in a stunning little shaded alcove, where an arch and the temporary seating was decorated with dahlias and eucalyptus foliage (representing the brides’ Aussie homeland) just like the bridesmaids’ bouquets. The soulful voice of Jo Fabro serenaded us down the isle, Jo also featured at the reception’s pre-drinks and canapes.
Location shots by The Official Photographers (that’s me, walking the gorgeous flower girl down the isle – you can see the rest of Oneroa Beach and sail boats in the back ground).
The wedding party – and PARTAAAYY it certainly was – was held at the award-winning Mudbrick Vineyard where every single guest was made to feel special. The venue was decked-out and already looked amazing before mother nature turned on a breathtaking sunset view over Auckland while we ate, drank, mingled and celebrated. The staff were highly attentive to all guests’ needs. The wine was to die for. The food was to die for. And the company was the BEST in the world!
[photos by The Official Photographers – Reception Venue of Mudbrick Vineyard, the couple at sunset]
But nothing could match the amount of PURE LOVE felt in the room, not just BETWEEN the two brides, but FOR the newlyweds, and AMONGST all the guests. It felt like the room could burst there was so much love and happiness! Combine this with a charming MC, tear-jerking speeches and an epic playlist for the dancefloor and I’m sure you can imagine the fun-filled night that ensued!
If you’re planning on getting married, I highly recommend considering Waiheke for a location wedding!
Things to See and Do on Waiheke
My Top 3 things to do on Waiheke Island would be:
- Visit the Wineries, Breweries and Cider Houses.
- Do lots of amazing walks/hikes.
- Swim, surf, relax on the beach.
With over 25 wineries, breweries and cider houses, I would hazard a guess that Waiheke has one of the highest winery-to-resident ratios in New Zealand! The Bordeaux and Burgundy varieties of Cabernet, Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Malbec are the what the island is most known for. That being said, I sampled several wines other varieties that were of exceptional quality, this is largely due to the impact that the changing climate has on Waiheke. Being a small island, Waiheke is quite susceptible to weather changes experienced in the gulf meaning that, depending on the weather during a particular season, some varieties may do better than others.
I As I mentioned before, the wedding reception was held at Mudbrick Vinyard, certainly a must-visit when you come to Waiheke. The tasting experience is set to have your mouth watering not only from the delicious wines but the panoramic view of Auckland, not to mention the award winning food!
Sunset and day time views of Auckland from Mudbrick Vineyard. (The Official Photographers)
Relaxed setting for wine tasting, lunch or nibbles at Mudbrick Vineyard.
Just a few of the amazing fine dining options on offer at Mudbrick Vineyard.
Te Whau does a splendid vertical tasting (bookings essential) while the island’s boutique brewery, Wild On Waiheke offers some of the tastiest brews going around as well as plenty of entertainment for the kids (and big kids) with a giant playground, archery, clay-bird shooting, giant chess, trampoline, volleyball and more.
One of the best walks you can do is on the far eastern side of the island, out to Fort Stony Batter. Combining a walk by the Man O’War Vineyards with breathtaking views and a touch of colonial history, it makes for an accomplished afternoon’s activity. While you’re in the neighbourhood, why not stop in at Man O’War Vineyards for a tasting of their famous Rose as a refresher after your walk!
The island offers plenty of delightful walks, check them all out here.
Being a small island, it doesn’t really matter where you are on the island, you’re sure to be not far from a beach, both surf beaches and ‘bay’ beaches. Dunk your head under, swim, surf and get that sand between your toes; there’s nothing to beat it! Plenty of beaches on the island also have places where you can hire kayaks, sea canoes and other water gear.
Logistics, Accommodation etc.
Most Accommodation on Waiheke is via rental properties. We hired this Kiwi View Cottage in the main town on the island, Oneroa, which we found on BookaBach. Prices outside of high season (mid Jan – March) are quite reasonable. There are also a few hotel/motel type places that you can find through Trip Advisor.
Between 3 different ferry companies, there is a ferry from Auckland to Waiheke (and back) roughly every half hour and the last ferry returns from the island just after midnight each night! Once on the island there are plenty of bus services and bike-hire companies to help you get around. Alternatively you can hire a car or bring your own bike or car with you on the car ferry.
We hired a car for the several days that we stayed on the island, however, if you’re just going for a day trip then the bus services or a bike will certainly suffice!
Regardless of your reason for visiting Waiheke, whether your stay is short or long, you’ll be sure to have an amazing time!