New Zealand's 'Island Of Wine' Is A Luxurious Getaway With The Most Pristine Beaches

If you're a wine lover, as you're putting together your itinerary for your trip to New Zealand — whether for 10 days or 10 weeks, you should definitely include Waiheke Island (pronounced "why-heck-ee") on your list. Off the coast of Auckland, Waiheke is a perfect place for a day trip if you're short on time or a weekend visit if you're looking for a more in-depth experience. It's a small island — just 38 square miles — but has earned the nickname the "Island of Wine" thanks to its 30 wineries. Add to that some fantastic (and fantastically uncrowded) beaches with opportunities for snorkeling, swimming, and sunbathing, and you have an idyllic vacation destination that covers all bases.


When it comes to Waiheke Island wines, all the wineries are relatively young compared to Europe or even America. Goldie Estate is the oldest winery on the island, and it was only established in the late 1970s. Waiheke Island has its own microclimate, separate from nearby Auckland — it's a bit warmer and a bit less rainy and humid. Add to that the hilly landscape, with its range of underlying rock combined with the maritime breezes, help make Waiheke Island wines unique.

Sample wines unique to New Zealand and spend the night next to a vineyard

Over the years, Waiheke Island has become known for its Bordeaux blends, with the region proving itself to be a great place to grow grapes for cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, and chardonnay. Many of the wineries are on the smaller, more boutique side, so you may be sampling a wine that you wouldn't be able to easily get outside of New Zealand or sometimes even outside Waiheke. One of the largest operations on the island is the Man O' War Winery, and it's the ultimate combination of beaches and wine tasting — their tasting room is the sole beachfront wine-tasting spot on the island. It's one of the more remote of Waiheke's wineries, and it has its own transport service to and from the ferry port in Waiheke and one in Auckland. There's a white sand beach with picnic tables where you can sit and enjoy your wine as you watch the water.


Other popular wineries on Waiheke (per Tripadvisor) include Tantalus Estate Vineyard, Stonyridge Vineyard, and Mudbrick Vineyard. At each, you can taste the estate's wines and order food to enjoy in picturesque vineyard settings. At Mudbrick, you can even book a luxurious room for the night. Some of the other vineyards also offer rooms on their estates, so you can wake up with a view of the vines.

Don't forget to check out Waiheke Island beyond its wine

If you want to get a taste of Waiheke Island beyond wine, it has award-winning olive oil estates, a gin distillery, a whiskey distillery, and a craft brewery. And, of course, there are the stunning beaches of Waiheke. Oneroa Beach is an 8-minute bus ride from the main ferry terminal, and it's close to the shops and cafes of the main town. The large, popular beach is in a sheltered bay, so it's great for swimming and families. The largest beach on Waiheke Island is Onetangi Beach, on the bay of the same name. It's 1.5 miles of white sand where you can relax and enjoy the views of the waves without crowds. It's also got large pōhutukawa trees — with their bright red blooms during summer, near Christmas time, they've become a symbol of New Zealand and hold cultural significance for New Zealand's Māori people.


It's easy to get to and around Waiheke Island. The island is a 40-minute ferry ride from central Auckland, with over two dozen daily departures. You can bundle your ferry ticket from Auckland with a hop-on, hop-off bus tour of the island with Fullers360, which makes stops at 15 destinations — that makes life easier if you're planning to sample wine and don't want to coordinate a car — no drinking and driving! If you're looking for one of the best islands for wine tasting on the planet, look no further than Waiheke Island.