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How to get around Waiheke Island

A visit to Waiheke Island is one of the most popular things to do in Auckland. Once on the island, you will want a good idea of how to get around; that’s where this transport guide comes in. We’ll help you figure out how to get around Waiheke Island.

Your Waiheke Island transport guide

Getting to Waiheke Island

Before finalising your transport on Waiheke Island, you’ll need to decide how to get there in the first place.

The vast majority of visitors will get to Waiheke by ferry, departing from downtown Auckland, Devonport (on the North Shore) and Half Moon Bay (South-East Auckland). Passengers have the choice between vehicle services and passenger-only sailings.

There are, however, many different modes of transport over to Waiheke, so you’re sure to find the best fit for your needs.

Either way, it’s easy to get to this beautiful island in Auckland.

Aerial view of Waiheke Island, capturing the yachts anchored on the turquoise waters, the white stretch of the beach, and the houses along with the trees at a short distance.

How to Get Around Waiheke Island: The Only Transport Guide You’ll Need

Transport really is required on Waiheke – it’s a fairly big island and its attractions are sprinkled all over. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to get around Waiheke.

Use Your Own Car

If you have your own transport, it is definitely possible to use it on the island. Be it a car, van, campervan or motorbike – all are welcome on the car ferries.

The vehicle ferry departs from Half Moon Bay Marina (in Bucklands Beach) and drops passengers to Kennedy Point Marina.

Taking your own car to Waiheke is convenient and is especially cost-effective if you are planning to spend an extended period of time on the island.

Pros

  • Load the car up once and you’re set – no need to carry your gear onto the ferry or transfer to another mode of transport.
  • The comfort and convenience of driving your own car.
  • Complete control over your transport on the island – no need to worry about bus timetables.

Cons

  • The vehicle ferry is more expensive than the passenger-only ferry.
  • Vehicle sailings are only available from Half Moon Bay Marina in Bucklands Beach.
  • You’ll need to have a vehicle to take with you!
  • Someone in your group will need to be sober (or you’ll need to organise alternative transport if visiting vineyards).

Hire a Car on Waiheke

If you’d like the flexibility of having your own wheels on Waiheke but don’t have your own car to take over, it is easy to hire cars on the island.

It is also a great option for those wanting flexibility on the island without the expense of transporting their own car. Day trippers from Auckland, for example.

Pros

  • Save money by catching a passenger ferry (no need for the more expensive vehicle ferry).
  • Again, you’ll have complete control over your transport on the island.

Cons

  • You’ll need to transport your gear on the ferry and then load the hire car.
  • If you already own a car in Auckland, you’ll be doubling up by also hiring one on the island.
  • You will need to have a valid driver’s license.
  • Someone in your group will need to be sober (or you’ll need to organise alternative transport if visiting vineyards).
The outside of The Island Grocer store, where a woman sits on a bench, two mountain bikes parked behind her, and two people walking past by.

Catch Public Buses

If you’d like the flexibility of having your own wheels on Waiheke but don’t have your own car to take over, it is easy to hire cars on the island.

Buses on the island are run by AT (Auckland Transport), just as they are on the mainland. You’ll need to purchase an AT Hop card to use the buses on Waiheke.

All of the main roads across Waiheke are covered on the public bus network, making it a viable mode of transport. They reach as far as the northern beaches and Rocky Bay (in the south), in addition to Onetangi Beach (in the east) and the Matiatia Ferry. Some of the buses even have cycle racks on the front, should you want to bike around the island too.

Buses can be an economical way to move around the island.

Pros

  • Save money by catching a passenger ferry (no need for the more expensive vehicle ferry).
  • Keep your costs down – especially if travelling solo or in a small group.
  • No need for a sober driver if you’re planning to visit the vineyards!
  • Only pay for the fares you need.

Cons

  • If staying overnight, you’ll need to transport your gear with you.
  • You’ll have to keep an eye on bus timetables
  • You’ll have to walk or catch taxis if wanting to go where buses don’t run.

Enjoy the ‘Explorer Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour’

Keen to enjoy the best of the island with very little thought? Don’t want to worry about who will be your sober driver? The Explorer bus tour might be just what you’re looking for!

Purchasing a ticket to the hop-on hop-off bus tour will provide you unlimited access to their coaches whilst on the island. With 17 stops across the island, it’s possible to jump on and off as you wish, or you can choose to stay on board and ride the full 1.5-hour circuit.

Whilst enjoying the island stress-free, you’ll also benefit from the commentary of your local driver. Learn all about the best spots on the island and of its history, as you hop on and off at key points around Waiheke.

Pros

  • No need for a sober driver – everyone in your group can enjoy Waiheke’s vineyards.
  • Ride the loop and relax – no need to navigate yourself.
  • Enjoy local commentary onboard.
  • If purchased with your Fullers ferry ticket, you’ll receive a discount.
  • Choose from a single-day or 2-day ticket (with or without a ferry pass)

Cons

  • If you have 4-5 adults, you’ll find it cheaper to organise your own car.
  • Your hop-on hop-off ticket will almost certainly be more than normal bus tickets.

Jump on Your Bike!

If you’re a fitness fanatic, then cycling on Waiheke might be the perfect fit for you; be warned though, it isn’t for everyone!

It’s easy to take your own bike over on the ferry, or you can hire a bike should you prefer.

Pros

  • Get your exercise in whilst enjoying the sights.
  • Enjoy a low-cost form of transport.
  • Load your bike into the bus bike racks if you’d like a little break from peddling.

Cons

  • There are so many hills on Waiheke – riding there isn’t for beginners.
  • With windy, narrow roads, you’ll be sharing with cars.
  • Not all of the buses have bike racks (and they may be full), so you won’t be able to count on using them all.
Cyclists taking out the bicycles on a bus rack which is installed in front of a bus.

Hop in a Taxi

Though they’re not a particularly cost-effective way to travel, taxis certainly do provide flexibility. If travelling in a group of 4-5, the cost per head comes down also.

If you’re finishing up a boozy night out, it’s hard to look past a taxi!

Pros

  • Let someone else do the sober driving.
  • Get to your location quickly and without the need to navigate yourself.
  • Get picked up at a time that suits you – no need to wait on timetables.

Cons

  • Taxis are not a particularly cost-effective way to travel – especially if you’re planning on using one right across the day.

Use Waiheke’s Answer to Uber – Ryda

Waiheke Island doesn’t have Uber or Ola but it does have its very own homegrown rideshare solution; it’s called Ryda. From cars through to vans, there’s enough room for the whole crew when booking through them.

Pros

  • Let someone else do the sober driving.
  • Get to your location quickly and without the need to navigate yourself.
  • Get picked up at a time that suits you – no need to wait on timetables.
  • The cost should be lower than in a taxi.

Cons

  • Though cheaper than a taxi fare, Ryda is still one of your most expensive transport options on Waiheke.
Passengers disembarking unto the port of Matiatia Wharf ferry terminal using the stairs or gangway of the ship.

Waiheke Island is an incredible location sitting right on downtown Auckland’s doorstep. With incredible views, delicious food and wine, exciting activities, shopping, and more, it’s not hard to find an excuse to pop over to the island for a weekend.

Get your ferry organised, plan how you’ll travel around on the island and prepare to have a seriously good time!

Photo credit: Discover Aotearoa

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