Waiheke Island is in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand 17.7 km (about 35 minutes by ferry) from Auckland. Of the Hauraki Gulf islands, the most populated and the most accessible by regular ferry and air services. Waiheke is the third most populated island in New Zealand, after the North and South Islands. Waiheke Island has a permanent population of around 8,000 residents. Much of the population lives close to the western end of Waiheke Island, at or close to an east-west isthmus between Huruhi Bay and Oneroa Bay which, at its narrowest, is only 600 metres wide.
Waiheke Island is a picturesque blend of farmland, forest, beaches, vineyards and olive groves. There is a great range of activities on Waiheke. Options include sightseeing, mountain biking, sea kayaking, a relaxed vineyard tour and much more. The delectable cuisine on offer is complemented by a range of award-winning wines produced at the island's many wineries. Significant industries on the island include wine-making, olive production, tourism and arts, crafts. Home to many artists, singers, musicians and alternative health practitioners. Two primary schools, a high school, a local market and a fantastic, friendly community!
History of Waiheke Island
Discovered and settled by Maori approximately 1000 years ago, Waiheke translates to 'cascading waters'. Some Maori legends relate that one of the pioneering waka (canoes) to New Zealand came upon the island. The first traces of Europeans arrived with the missionary Samuel Marsden in the early 1800s, several years after Captain Cook passed by and acknowledged the island in his travels through the Hauraki Gulf.
Signs of Maori occupation on Waiheke Island still exist today. Archeological sites are scattered over the island including more than forty pa sites, cooking pits and terraced areas.
Located on the eastern tip of Waiheke is Stony Batter, a historic WWII defense complex that is accessible by walking through countryside with striking views of the Hauraki Gulf and Coromandel Peninsula. Stony Batter today is open to visitors to walk through the network of underground tunnels and chambers that link to magnificent gun emplacements. The purpose of the complex was to provide outer harbour protection incase of an invasion.