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Waiheke Island of New Zealand is rated one of the top 5 regions in the world (source) and voted one of the world’s best islands by Lonely Planet in 2016.

This little utopia is a diverse tourist destination that has a lot to offer. Beautiful beaches, boutique vineyards, galleries and cafes, arts & crafts, and many scenic hiking tracks attract travellers worldwide.

Whether you’re travelling solo, in a group, with family or friends, this island caters for everyone, making Waiheke Island one of the must-visit destinations in New Zealand.

As a family of island chasers living in New Zealand, this was our 3rd time on the island with our toddler.

In this family travel guide, we will share the essential travel information on getting around Waiheke Island, family-friendly things to do with or without a car, along with our photos and videos to help you visualise your perfect day trip to this part of the world.

Waiheke Island New Zealand Family Travel Guide Things To Do Featured

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New Zealand Travel Guides by Region: North Island

Northland: Paihia | Tutukaka Coast | Whangarei
Auckland: Clevedon Coast | Matakana Coast | Waiheke Island | Waitakere Ranges
Waikato: Coromandel | Hamilton | Raglan
Bay of Plenty: Rotorua
Taranaki: Egmont National Park
Manawatu-Manganui: Tongariro

Getting There

How do you get to Waiheke Island?


There are two ferry operators that connect Auckland to Waiheke Island. Fullers 360 is the most popular option for tourists without a car. You’re welcome to bring a stroller, bicycle or e-bike onboard. There are car hire services on the island, but in case if you prefer to bring your own vehicle, travel with Sealink.

The other option is to fly there with one of the tours such as this Wine and Food Tasting Flight.

How long is the ferry ride from Auckland to Waiheke Island?


Waiheke Island is a short 40 minutes ferry ride away from Auckland Downtown. In our honest opinion, the ferry ride is very much a sightseeing cruise on its own.

How much is the ferry from Auckland to Waiheke Island?

– Adult tickets for Fullers are from $46pp return (purchase online and save $4!).
– Under 5s are free. Family passes are available.
– For multiple visits, consider getting a Flexi Pass for a hugely discounted price.

* Prices of Waiheke Island ferry change often due to high demands, please check their website for current fares.

If you’re planning to stay on the island for more than just a day or two, bringing a car might be the better option. Then SeaLink is the ferry to catch.

Return Ferry To Waiheke Island Including Car

Fullers Ferry

There are 3 decks on Fullers altogether. The top deck is completely open-air with 360° panoramic views of Auckland city coastline, Rangitoto, and nearby islands. There is a cafe and toilet facility on-board.

© Photos by Kida

Ferry Pass & Combos

To make the best out of your day, book a ferry and hop-on hop-off bus combo to explore Waiheke Island.
During peak times, do expect a long wait for the explorer bus as it usually runs on capacity at the weekends.

Getting Around

There are a number of options to get around on Waiheke Island. Depending on how much time you have on the island and how you want to pace yourselves, you can choose to:

  • Hire a car or scooter with Waiheke Auto Rentals (there are 3 car rental companies right in the ferry terminal of Waiheke Island. Bookings are essentials during the peak holiday season and public holidays.)
  • Take a hop-on hop-off bus with Waiheke Explorer.
  • Hire a bicycle with Waiheke Bike Hire.
  • Hire a scooter with Island Scoot.
  • Hire an e-bike or e-scooter with Bikes and Barbers.
  • Catch an island bus.
  • Book a tour.

Waiheke Island Buses

Our family is travelling with a toddler for only one day, and we have decided to take the bus to get around the island.

Fares: Each bus trip costs around $3.50 if you’re paying cash. Alternatively, we recommend getting an AT Hop card, which brings down the ticket price to just $1.90 per hop card each way.

Buses generally run approximately half an hour apart until late, so expect waiting time or grab a bus timetable.

Routes: There are 3 main routes, the popular Onetangi Beach (including must-visit vineyards like Stonyridge), Rocky Bay (including Saturday Ostend Market), and Palm Beach. You may have to change buses to get to your destination. Check with the driver first!

Hot Tip

Bus 50A&B is stroller-friendly, but 502 is a small and narrow bus we don’t recommend if you have a stroller. We struggled with our pram and found the best spot to dock our pram was near the backdoor. Even so, people from the back of the bus had to squeeze past to get off the bus. At least we weren’t blocking the way for people who just got on.

Waiheke Island Ferry Terminal Matiatia Harbour Bus Station Scenic View
Matiatia Ferry Terminal by the Bus Station

© Photos by Kida

Day trip to Waiheke Island with kids

Top Things To Do for Families

Waiheke Island is known for its white-sand beaches, boutique vineyards, bohemian vibes, trendy shops, and scenic walking tracks. There is plenty to do for everyone, and you could easily spend a week here exploring if you have a car.

In this section, we put together a list of family-friendly highlights of Waiheke Island that you could potentially cover in one day without a car!

The island hosts regular events all year round. You can check the official Tourism Waiheke website for detailed information and plan your visit accordingly.

Waiheke Island Auckland New Zealand Top Things To Do Family with Kids Baby Toddler Beach
Rocky Bay Beach

© Photos by Kida

Oneroa Village & Galleries

After getting off the ferry, you will most likely come across Oneroa Village. This is Waiheke Island’s hub, where you can find restaurants, cafes, shops, and galleries. It’s a great starting point to get a feel of Waiheke Island and what it has to offers.

© Photos by Kida

Oneroa Sunday Market is a small local artisan market featuring live music and local goods. It’s worth checking out if you’re on the island on a Sunday.

© Photos by Kida

Saturday Ostend Market

Ostend Market is open every Saturday until about 1 pm, hence why we chose a Saturday to visit. You can find boutique clothing stalls on the reserve, organic homemade products, yummy food from a mix of cultures, and live music with great ambience!

Saturday Ostend Market Waiheke Island Auckland New Zealand Family Travel Guide
Saturday Ostend Market

© Photos by Kida


Oneroa Beach is the closest to town and has a local feel. It’s a great place to have a picnic with a bit of a downhill walk. In our honest opinion, the water quality isn’t the best here, at least not for swimming.

Photo © Stuff

However, we did enjoy the view and had a nice sunset dinner by the beach! If you prefer a piece of secluded beach to yourselves, Little Oneroa is at the eastern end of Oneroa. You can walk across to Little Oneroa during low tides, and there is also a playground and BBQ area.

Onetangi Beach is one of the most popular beaches for tourists. On a hot day, this long stretch of white sand beach is packed with beach bums. Bring your lunch and roll out your rugs under the trees!

Alternatively, the Beach Store Cafe is right opposite the bus stop, you can’t miss it! Try their famous seafood pizza, and enjoy an ice cream by the beach.

Onetangi Beach, Waiheke Island

© Photos by Kida

Palm Beach is the best beach to get away from the crowd without missing out on the beauty of Waiheke. You will need to take the bus from Ostend or Oneroa to get to Palm Beach as there isn’t a direct route.

There is a playground and a BBQ area around the middle section of the beach. If you’re travelling with kids, note that the far western end of this beach is a nude beach where clothing is optional.

Rocky Bay is our type of beach and by far our favourite on the island. This little bay is a hidden sanctuary that is not often advertised or promoted by the media, so very few tourists know about it.

The beach is covered by shells and rocks, making it a little difficult to walk on. Despite that, many locals still go for walks and swims! It’s such a scenic and peaceful paradise. You can relax here for hours without getting interrupted. Take your camera out, because this is the place to take breathtaking instagrammable photos!

© Photos by Kida

Waiheke Island travel vlog


There are over 30 boutique vineyards on the island, the most popular being Stonyridge, Mudbrick, and Man O’War vineyards. The most upmarket vineyard restaurants are mostly located on the western side of the island near Oneroa. Alternatively, stop by one of the vineyards along Onetangi Road!

© Photos by Kida

Food & Wine Tours

The best way to go about wine tasting on Waiheke Island is joining one of the tours, such as this Full Day premium wine tasting tour with Enjoi Waiheke

Alternatively, try one of these highly rated wine tasting tours on Waiheke Island.

Walking Trails

The Waiheke Island Art Trail is a 3km family-friendly scenic walk. You can find the Art Trail Map here.

© Photos by Kida

There are many other hiking tracks and trails available if this is something you enjoy. There will be plenty of walking on the island regardless and some paths are not stroller-friendly. So break up your day and plan ahead.

Waiheke Island Guided Walking Tours

Scenic Flights over Waiheke Island

If budget allows, take your family on an epic scenic flight over Waiheke Island and admire the beauty of one of the top islands in the world from above!

Other Activities on Waiheke

If you have the luxury of staying on Waiheke Island for a few days, explore some of the other activities this island has to offer, such as horse riding, archery and laser shooting and zipline adventure.

We always use Viator to browse through the top activities for inspirations.

Don’t Be A Stranger!

We’d love to get to know our readers. Leave your thoughts below!
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How long do you plan to spend on Waiheke Island and what are your itineraries like?

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