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Auckland Islands

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Waiheke Island is a picturesque island located nineteen kilometres from Auckland . The ferry journey takes approximately 45 minutes and ferries generally operate hourly from the ferry terminal, docking at Matiatia Wharf on Waiheke Island. Once you dock there are several tour bus services operating to take you around the island. as well as taxis. The public buses are also available and usually run on an hourly schedule.

Waiheke Island covers 92 square kilometres and is the second largest island in the Hauraki Gulf . It was inhabited by Europeans soon after Auckland and livings were made from farming, fishing, timber and ship-building. However, now tourism is one of the island's most important industries, an importance increased by the introduction, in 1987, of a fast catamaran service. Now thousands of people every day cross to the island for pleasure. However, there are also 7,500 residents of the island, of whom nearly 20% commute to Auckland to work.

The island offers beautiful sandy beaches, ocean kayaking, fishing, bush walks, vineyards and wineries, olive groves, mountain biking and horse riding. There are also Second World War fortifications and tunnels. The main town is Oneroa.

Waiheke has 22 vineyards with a lot producing award winning wines, however not all of them open their doors to the public for sales and tastings.

It is not necessary to limit a visit to a day trip, for there is plenty of accommodation available on the island, including two backpackers hostels and a wide range of more opulent options.

Artworks Centre
This is home to many of the local artists art and craft works. Ocean View Road, Oneroa

This is Waiheke's main town and is located one kilometre from the ferry wharf at the western end of the island. The visitor information centre is located here as well as a main street with cafes and many art and craft shops selling the local's works. Oneroa Bay is the beach here and is the most popular and accessible on the island.

This is Waiheke's longest, exposed beaches and is very popular for swimming, surfing and windsurfing.

Palm Beach
This beautiful stretch of coastline is located located six kilometres east of Oneroa.The western end of this beach , behind the rocks, is Waiheke's nude beach.

Whittaker's Musical Experience
This place is full of instruments that are old, different and delightful. If you hang around you can become involved in a musical performance. Oneroa

Waiheke Potteries
Here you can view a range of homemade pottery pieces and decorate your own as well. Oneroa

Waiheke's Vineyards
A trip to the Island isn't complete without a visit to at least one of the quality vineyards here.

Cable Bay Vineyards
Located a five minute drive from the ferry this working winery has a restaurant, wine bar and tasting rooms. There are also some stunning views of the surrounding countryside and bay here. 12 Nick Johnstone Drive, Oneroa (09 372 5889)

Mudbrick Vineyard and Restaurant
Offers lunch and dinner with the local wines as well as cellar sales and tastings. Church Bay Road (09 372 9050)

Peninsula Estate
Located one kilometre northwest of Oneroa, has tastings and tours and sales, but you will need to telephone first to make an appointment. 52a Korora Road (09 372 7866)

Onetangi Road Vineyard and Brewery
If the wine doesn't appeal you can get a beer here as well.

Stoneyridge Vineyard
Touted to be the one of the top ten wineries in the world to visit, this vineyard produces top quality organic red wines as well as premium whites. This picturesque buildings that house the restaurant and wine tasting area have great views of the valleys and rolling hills on the island. 80 Onetangi Road (09 372 8822)

Kawau Island
This island is home to the stately mansion of the first governor of New Zealand, Sir George Grey. There are walking tracks here through native forests and beaches. The ferry travels to Kawau from Sanspit, one hour North of Auckland

Rangitoto Island
Rangitoto Island is quite different from Waiheke. It is a volcano – the youngest of the volcanoes in and around Auckland , being a mere 600 years old. It suddenly erupted from the sea bed and left behind a cone 259 metres high. The island is roughly circular, five kilometres across, and almost entirely made up of black volcanic basalt. Its cone can be seen on the horizon from Auckland and becomes more spectacular as one approaches.

The island was evidently not much used by Maoris, except as a lookout. However, there are some burial caves, presumably for those who lived and died on neighbouring Motutapu Island.

During the Second World War, the island was used for defence purposes, and there was a lookout at the summit of the volcano. Rangitoto is well vegetated, and has, in fact, the largest remaining forest of native pohutukawa trees in the country. It also has several species of orchid and some unusual hybrid plants. It has colonies of sea birds, but relatively few land birds. Possums and wallabies, which had been introduced here, have been eradicated to protect the trees.

The main attraction, though, is the volcano. One can walk to the summit. The return journey takes about two hours, plus whatever time one chooses to spend at the top. A path runs right round the rim of the crater, giving splendid views all round, and inside as well. Fortunately, the volcano is now extinct. Note that there is no water available on the island, so be sure to bring an adequate supply.

Remember not to be left behind by the last ferry, although there is a camp site on neighbouring Motutapu Island . The two islands are connected by a causeway. There is no accommodation on Rangitoto Island.

Motutapu Island

This is Rangitoto's closest neighbour but, it is alot older and very different geologically. Motutopu was occupied by Maori's even before Rangitoto erupted from the sea. The island is full of archaeological sites as well as old and recent relics. Visitors are welcome to explore Motutopu Island and there are many walking tracks. Rangitoto Island can be accessed from the causeway and the ferry stops at both islands. There is a campsite here.

Great Barrier Island

Also known as Aotea, this rugged island lies 90 kilometres northeast of Auckland. The island is only 30 kilometres wide and 15 kilometres long but it packs plenty of choice scenery into it's small space. There are mountains, bays, forests and plenty of beaches to explore here. Tramping, cycling, swimming, fishing , boating and kayaking are just some of the activities to do on the island. The west coast has safe sandy beaches, whilst the east coast is best for surfing.

Great Barrier Island is sparsely populated, there is no electricity supply on the island, the islanders survive using powered generators. Tryphena is the main settlement and is the arrival point for the ferries. Claris is a smaller settlement and is where the airport is located. The other town is Port Fitzroy. There are camping grounds, lodges, hostels and motels providing accommodation on the island, and they get booked out in peak periods. There are two ferry services and two airlines that service the island, the ferry ride is a two hour trip from Auckland. The roads on the island are mostly unsealed however, there is a public bus service to get you around.

Tiritiri Matangi Island

This island is a sanctuary for rare bird species and here you can view some of New Zealand's native birds in their natural habitat. There are many walking tracks here and a whole day could be spent exploring the island. A ferry service does run to the island.


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