This New Zealand Island Is A Must-Visit Destination For A Wine Vacation

New Zealand is known for many things, from the shooting locations for Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy to Māori culture to the country's incredible wines and wineries. If you happen to be visiting the North Island and you find yourself in Auckland, it's worth a short ferry ride over to Waiheke Island, one of the best spots to find beautiful views while drinking the fermented juice of the grape. 

Waiheke Island is a mere 19.3 kilometers long, but it's the perfect spot to create Cabernet blends, and even some Chardonnays. The terroir (or winemaking conditions) are ideal here thanks to the clay and soil combination, and the fact that the island is kept warm and dry because of its location. Between the lovely village of Oneroa, the miles and miles of beaches, and the cellar doors (purchasing rooms at wineries) and the restaurants at some of the vineyards, Waiheke Island is just about perfect for a wine vacation. 

Just take the Matiatia ferry from Auckland and jump on a public bus to Onetangi on the northern part of the island, and you can begin your visit to some of the best wineries in New Zealand. Buses are easy to take around the island, and you can also walk or take a taxi. There are wine tours available as well, all without driving yourself (though you can have your car brought over by boat if you'd like). 

Wineries on Waiheke Island

One thing to remember about wineries on Waiheke Island is that they're not all open every day of the week. It's worth a call or website check. If you miss one, the Waiheke Island Wine Centre in Oneroa will often have the beverage from the winery you were looking for. One of our favorites is Cable Bay Vineyards. There is a fantastic view of the sunset from here, and a restaurant called The Verandah, with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the bay. This place grows grapes from the Pinot Gris, Syrah, Merlot, Malbec, Marsanne, Chardonnay, and Viognier vines.

Don't miss Te Motu, which boasts wonderful views over the Onetangi Valley and is known for its aged and blended red wines. The on-site restaurant The Shed serves a fresh, modern menu and provides both indoor and outdoor seating. Meanwhile, the Man O' War vineyard is right next to the beach on the eastern side of the island. You'll likely have to book a table in advance for food, but it's worth it, particularly if you visit on a day when live music is offered.

Another winery that we love is at the Tantalus Estate Vineyard in the Onetangi Valley, which has both a cellar door and the acclaimed Estate Restaurant next to the vineyard.

What else is there to do on Waiheke Island?

While you're visiting, don't miss the charming Oneroa village, which sits about two kilometers from where the ferry drops you off. There are restaurants (if you don't eat at a winery), shops, and of course, wine. There is also a beach nearby, and it's one of many. The water around the island is known for its turquoise color, and it's great for swimming. 

Another fun activity here which you can book via Viator is a zipline tour over the island that also has a forest walk and some incredible vistas of the Hauraki Gulf. Just remember that it might be preferable to leave the wine tasting until after ziplining!

If you don't fancy a trip back to New Zealand proper on a ferry after indulging in the grape, there are plenty of places to stay on the island, from bed and breakfasts to short-term rentals, to hostels and hotels. If you have the time, pay a visit to the Waiheke Island Museum & Historic Village operated by the Waiheke Island Historical Society, where you can learn about the history of the area.