5 of the best Waiheke walks, as shared by a local

Explore the best Waiheke walks and get your daily steps in whilst enjoying one of our most unique islands.

Waiheke is famous for its vineyards and beaches, so people are often surprised at the range of walking tracks on the island. With over 100km of tracks on the island, there certainly is no shortage of them!

Although Waiheke Island is hilly, there are options for walkers of all levels of fitness and energy. Plus, wonderful views, native bush, beaches, dog-friendly trails and countless wineries to explore, means there is something for everyone here.

Best of all, you don’t need to be a local to scope out the best walking trails. We have invited Tess Shaw, the Trust Chair of the Waiheke Walking Trust, to share her top recommendations. Browse through her top five picks and include one when you next visit this Hauraki Gulf island.

Did you know? Walking has many benefits, both for our brains and bodies. Evidence now shows that walking in nature boosts our well-being, creativity and kindness, whilst reducing anxiety and stress. It can also improve our capacity for attention and ability to connect with others. Being in nature has a profound impact on our brains and our behavior — plus, it’s great fun!

The Best Waiheke Walks

Matiatia to the Vineyards via the Coastal Track

If you’re looking for a ‘walk with rewards’, then the Coast Track from the ferry to some of the Island’s acclaimed wineries is just the ticket. It is a stunning introduction to the island.

It starts at the Matiatia ferry terminal, which conveniently is one of the key arrival points for Waiheke Island visitors. This track also offers awe-inspiring views of the coast and the inner Gulf, as you make your way to Cable Bay Vineyard, Mudbrick Vineyard and Restaurant, and Jurassic Ridge Winery.

Crossing the Matiatia Bay foreshore, the track climbs up through regenerating bush, offering glimpses of the bay. It then weaves around to reveal views across the inner Gulf islands and back to Auckland City in the distance. You’ll then round the headland, where the cliff-top path skirts ancient pōhutukawa above rocky coves, before finally turning inland and joining the sealed road.

The first half of the walk is on mostly dirt tracks around the coast, following the headland. There are also some steps and moderate inclines. The second half of the walk is along a quiet sealed road (Nick Johnston Drive).

The Coastal Track is a walk that’s manageable for most fitness levels. Plus, it provides plenty of opportunities for insta pics and beautiful views, so it’s well worth a little effort. And, of course, you can further reward your efforts with a glass of wine or two, or a bite to eat at your favourite Waiheke restaurant.

Are dogs allowed?

The walk between Matiatia and the Vineyards is dog-on-lead friendly. Dogs must be kept on a leash to protect the island’s kororā (little penguins). The Archive Bar (at Mudbrick Vineyard and Restaurant) is particularly dog friendly too, allowing dogs inside or out while you dine.

>>> Learn more about Matiatia to the Vineyards (via the Coastal Track).

Tourists walking down a slope, one using the stairs and the other on the grass with beautiful flowers behind them through the left.

Oneroa to Palm Beach Walk

If you’re looking for a walk with a sense of discovery, this track along the northern coast of Waiheke will fill you with delight.

The Oneroa to Palm Beach walk is a scenic route that links beautiful trails and quiet roads. You’ll dip in and out of bays and coves, past authentic Waiheke baches (holiday homes) and through beautiful native bush reserves. This walk also enjoys views north across Tīkapa Moana (the Hauraki Gulf) and swings by two regenerating bush reserves (Newton and Mackenzie Reserves).

Oneroa to Palm Beach is a mix of shorter tracks through reserves, walks across beaches and bays, and hikes on quiet roads.  There are quite a lot of ups and downs and steps, so we suggest you take your time, immersing yourself in the area’s natural beauty. Plus, you’ll have legitimate reasons to stop for a breather as you admire the views over the lush and rocky headlands, and beyond to the Barrier Islands and Coromandel.

Starting at Oneroa Beach, we suggest allowing two hours to walk from one end to the other. Add in a leisurely lunch or coffee stop in Palm Beach (where you’ll find the Arcadia Restaurant and Palm Beach Store) before catching the bus back to Oneroa. The 502 bus departs from the Palm Beach Store right back to Oneroa (before continuing on to Matiatia — perfect if you’re ready to return home via ferry).

Book: Fullers Ferry ⛴️

Are dogs allowed?

This walk is dog-friendly (on-lead), with opportunities for off-lead fun at certain times on the main beaches. You’ll notice that the small coves are all on-lead as our kororā (little blue penguin) live there. Keep your eyes peeled as you’re walking.

>>> Learn more about the Waiheke walk between Oneroa and Palm Beach.

Did you know? This walk makes up part of the Te Ara Hura trail and is a fantastic section of the 100km walking adventure around Waiheke Island. This part of the trail requires a bit more ‘navigation’ than other parts, as the trail ducks left and right and weaves along the coast. We recommend using the link above for directions and keeping a good eye out for the red Te Ara Hura markers along the way.

A tourist standing on the rocky part of a beach, with the sandy shores seen at a distance.

Palm Beach to Onetangi Beach Walk

This is a lace-up-your-shoes-and-just-go favourite of ours. When we want a ‘good walk’ to clear out the cobwebs or to get our 10,000 steps in, we walk this out-and-back to Palm Beach again.  

It’s fabulous in all seasons. In the summer, you can enjoy a swim at the end of the walk. Come autumn or spring, you might stop at one of the Onetangi Valley vineyards or Onetangi Beach restaurants for a mid-point refreshment, before heading home.

The Palm Beach to Onetangi Beach walk connects two of Waiheke’s finest beaches. Walking along the tracks and back roads of the north coast, you’ll traverse pockets of dense bush, and high roads with sweeping views over the coast and a valley of vineyards.

It starts at beautiful Palm Beach, so allow some time to enjoy it, before finding the track at the café end of the beach.

From there, you’ll climb up before winding along shady bush-clad roads, across the top of the beautiful coastal development of Wāwata Estate, and then along the ridge road that connects the two beaches. From there, you’ll be treated to the fabulous vineyard and ocean views over the Onetangi Valley.

Up high on Seaview Road, closer to the Onetangi end, you’ll pass by Obsidian Vineyard with its relaxed tasting shed.

Casita Miro Winery and Restaurant isn’t far away either, known for award-winning tapas-style dining and amazing mosaic walls.

And the far end of Onetangi Beach offers the choice between a local’s favourites, Three Seven Two restaurant, Charlie Farley’s pub, or up-market Ki Māha.

This walk is a favourite amongst locals and will soon be a favourite of yours too.

Are dogs allowed?

This is another dog-friendly walk too, just be mindful that 1.5km of this walk is along narrow roads.

>>> Learn more about the walk from Palm Beach to Onetangi — including how to catch the local bus.

Pro Tip: This is another walk that requires a bit of ‘navigation’, as the track entrance is hidden behind the BBQs and disappears up into the bush, with no signs – and the trail ducks on and off the road. Keeping a good eye out for the red Te Ara Hura markers along the way will help you.

A long and beautiful expanse of a white beach with the waves crashing down the shore turning the wet sands into brown color and a view of the turquoise seas.

Whakanewha Dog Loop

If you’re looking for a reprieve from all the expansive ocean-meets-horizon views, this walk provides a sheltered forest experience.

Perfect in every season, it’s shady in the summer and sheltered in the rain. This makes it a year-round favourite for local runners and walkers. In fact, a friend shared this walk with us many years ago, and it’s been really rewarding introducing others to it (and hearing how much they enjoy it). We’re sure you’ll love it too.

People who know Waiheke for beaches and boating spots are often really surprised to discover our lush broadleaf podocarp forests. Supple jack, epiphytes, giant tree ferns and rata vine are just some of the flora along this route. You’ll also find a section of nīkau forest here that is truly stunning.

The bird life is amazing along the Whakanewha Dog Loop too. Even if you don’t see them, you’re bound to hear tūī, pīwakawaka (fantails), kererū (wood pigeons) and kōtare (kingfisher).

The gently graded gravel and dirt tracks are well-maintained. Plus these trails include some stairs that help get your blood pumping.

How to get there

This beautiful walk is located within Whakanewha Regional Park in Omiha. You’ll start from the ‘Sculpture car park’ on Gordons Road, in Whakanewha Regional Park. The easiest way to get there is by car.

If you don’t have a car, you can take the Rocky Bay bus to Omiha Memorial Hall and walk from there (for a slightly longer walk).

Related: How to travel around Waiheke Island.

Book: Fullers Ferry ⛴️

Are dogs allowed?

Due to dotterel nesting, dogs are not allowed on this shoreline section from Omiha Rocky Bay.

>>> Learn more about the Whakanewha Dog Loop.

Pukeatua Reserve to Poderi Crisci

If you’re looking for a walk to test your fitness, then you’ll love the Pukeatua Reserve to Poderi Crisci walk.

This is a challenging and incredibly rewarding walk with some big climbs and descents, and the most beautiful views. The walk includes the infamous, steep, rope-assisted track, but it’s fabulous, and anyone with reasonable fitness and the will to get up some hills will love it!

Beginning at Pukeatua Reserve on Trig Hill Road, this 4km(ish) section of the Te Ara Hura trail crosses grassy farmland, before dropping down into the valley. There you’ll find the steep uphill path (including a well-placed rope) that leads to more fabulous rural and sea views. You’ll want to catch your breath there, and enjoy the vista high up above the Awaawaroa Eco Village.

Next, you’ll descend past manganese mines to beautiful wetlands, before heading down the driveway to Poderi Crisci for a well-earned long lunch.

A longer version of this walk is also popular — we call it the “earn your wine walk”. And funnily enough, Poderi Crisci, is just the spot to enjoy a drink.

How to get there

There is no public transport at either end of this walk. This walk starts at Pukeatua Reserve on Trig Hill Road near EcoZip, although you could easily start it at Onetangi Beach and walk up Trig Hill Road to Pukeatua Reserve. That will get your heart and knees warmed up too!

Book: EcoZip [discounted] 🎟️

We recommend a taxi to return from Poderi Crisci. Or if you have 2 cars, you could leave one at each end.

Are dogs allowed?

Dogs are not allowed on the Pukeatua Reserve to Poderi Crisci walk as it passes through private property.

As there you have it, five of the best Waiheke walks, as shared by a local expert.

Which will you include in your plans when you next visit this wonderful island? If you’re keen on venturing into something else, you can find many other activities on Waiheke Island that you will surely enjoy.

The Waiheke Walking Trust is a charitable trust that exists to showcase Waiheke Island as a walking destination and to encourage and inspire people. The Waiheke Walking Trust also hosts an annual Waiheke Walking Festival in November of each year.

You will find additional information about the walks mentioned above (including time, distance, duration and directions) on the Walk Waiheke website. The team have also graded each walk to reflect the type of terrain and walking surfaces you can expect, using their tried and trusted Waiheke Walking Festival grading system.

This post was written by Tess Shaw, the Trust Chair of Waiheke Walking. Nobody knows Waiheke walks better than her!

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