Waiheke Island: The “10 Minute Walk”
Shortly after touching down in Auckland, New Zealand, we picked up our rental car and then drove to a hotel for the night. Bright and early the next morning, we packed our car and made our way to the ferry terminal. Of course, the South African in me was all freaked out about leaving a FULLY LOADED car for the whole day. But my American husband, who has a much greater faith in human-being, reassured me that our stuff would still be there when we returned.
Hahaha, and you thought it was just our accents that differed!
The ferry terminal is quite small, but there was another too. The best way to get to Waiheke Island is via a SeaLink ferry. They have services operating every day of the year, so you can choose the departure time that suits you best. Sailings depart daily from Half Moon Bay and Wynyard Quarter. We left from Half Moon Bay. If you want to take your car on the ferry, you can, but the cost of doing so seemed quite high, so we decided in advance to use the public transport on the island.
Waiheke Island is in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand. Its ferry-terminal in Matiatia Bay at the western end is 21.5 km from the downtown terminal in Auckland. It is the second-largest island in the gulf, after Great Barrier Island. It is the most populated island in the gulf, with nearly 8,730 permanent residents plus another estimated 3,400 who have second or holiday homes on the island. In 2015, Waiheke Island received international attention when it was rated the fifth best destination in the world to visit in 2016 by and also voted the fourth best island in the world in the Condé Nast Best Islands in the World List.
From what we had read on numerous blogs, it was easy to get around the island on a bicycle or via the convenient bus system. What we didn’t know was that the bus system wasn’t as extensive as what we had hoped. When we arrived on the Island, there were no bus stops in sight at Kennedy Point. There were also no taxis, and no other possible transport options.
The SeaLink ferry to Waiheke Island is really well-maintained and managed. I don’t think that we have ever seen a ferry this clean. Look at that floor… Oh my gosh, my perception is completely warped after living in China. Who looks at the cleanliness of floors, and openly admires it? Someone who has lived in China for 5 years, that’s who!
Check out the Ferry Times, Services and Details HERE.
With a car parked across the road from the ferry terminal, we boarded the ferry with only what we needed for the day. We knew when the last ferry was, and we had our accommodation for that evening book in the Coromandel Peninsula. So although we did have somewhere to be that night, and we couldn’t stay on the island too late, we were pretty much open to seeing where the road took us when we got there.
This ferry was super comfy, and fully stocked with food, drinks and anything else that you might need/ want. Even though the journey from Auckland to Waiheke Island was a mere 50 minutes, we were pleasantly surprised by all of the conveniences onboard the ferry.
While Justin and Eli relaxed on the chairs inside, eating some crackers and cheese, I ventured to the upper deck to take some pictures. As I expected, it was windy, but the views were worth it. I don’t think I will ever take blue skies for granted again.
Since we weren’t very prepared for our time on Waiheke Island, we were happy to find that there were (free) maps available on the ferry. We grabbed on before we disembarked, and then used it to ask people where we should go.
We askeda local man were the nearest bus stop was, and he didn’t know. I felt so bad when he seemed to be genuinely concerned for us. You could tell that he wanted to offer us a lift in his car, but he had already picked up his family/ friends, and the car was full.
Our first goal: Ostend Saturday Market
We knew that we wanted to check out the Ostend Saturday Market, and we heard a few people talking about it on the ferry. On the map, the market didn’t look TOO FAR away, and we were reassured of this when we ask some locals. They pointed up the steep road that led up from the harbor area, and said he should just keep walking. One lady said that it might be a 20-25 minute walk. It seemed simple enough, so off we went!
Above, Those folks were huffing and puffing as they climbed the steep hill. We were walking, which I feel is slightly easier on hills, but we had stroller, so we were still battling a little.
Along the way, we stopped to walk on a small beach. The sand was rough, with many tiny pebbles, but the water was gorgeous color. In the distance, the bay was filled with tons of yachts.
After we had climbed the hill, and followed it as it turned to the right, we started to wonder where this market was. We stopped to ask another local, and they pointed ahead of us, and and told us that it was another 10-15 minutes walk from there.
Okay, we thought, that doesn’t sound too bad.
We had made it up the hill, so hopefully that was the worst of it.
We walked by wine farms, valleys, open fields, some residential homes, and beautiful views of the surrounding bays.
It was definitely a scenic walk, but we couldn’t help wondering why no one else was walking…
And where the heck was the market!?
For that matter, where was ANYTHING!!? Except for a few people passing by on bicycles, we hadn’t really seen many people. We felt like we were on a deserted island, walking to the middle of nowhere.
Whenever we could, we stopped to rest.
It was pretty warm, and of course, Eli had fallen asleep in his stroller.
We went up and down a few more hills, and eventually found a few more people. We asked them how much further it was to the Ostend Saturday Market, and they also said that we should keep going. One lady said, “It’s about a 10 minute walk”.
Tired, hot and (by then) frustrated, we were beginning to get annoyed by the laid-back responses.
Clearly the New Zealanders on this island had no concept of time, because we had been walking for over an hour, and we felt like we were nowhere near this Saturday market.
We came to another bay, and then went up another hill. When we got to the bottom of the other side of that hill, we started to see more people, and cars… activity. We were filled with relief! FINALLY!
This was honestly the LONGEST 10-minute walk of our lives, and writing about it, I remember the frustration… but beyond that, the walk was beautiful! In the end, we walked for almost an hour and a half! We were mainly concerned that we had wasted too much of our time on the island on the walking that we did. It turned out that we had PLENTY more time to explore the island, and we ended up having a really great day.
More on that, and the market we were searching for, in upcoming New Zealand posts!