A great day trip out of Auckland is a cruise across to Waiheke Island, followed by a bus tour on the Waiheke Explorer, which takes in all the main sights during a two hour tour, leaving you to explore further in the afternoon – perhaps connect with a wine trip (of which there are many), or just relax on one of the beautiful beaches.

We headed to the Customs House, the main landmark on the Auckland waterfront and the place where all the ferries depart for different destinations, be they to some of the Auckland suburbs or out into the Hauraki Maritime Gulf. The 10am boat makes a stop at the pretty village of Devonport en route to the island and the trip takes around half an hour; you can buy a combination ticket with the bus tour included and this works out at around $55.00, which we thought was good value.

as-Explorer-bus-tour-of-WaihekeOur driver, Dave, took us past the Mudbrick and Stoney Ridge wine estates and onto a viewpoint for photos before descending one of the island’s winding roads to the stunning Onetangi Beach – a beautiful expanse of sand and a shorefront lined with Pohutukawa trees, which must look amazing at Christmas when all the flowers are out.

There are two beachside cafes, The Courtyard Gallery one corner of the beach, and Charleys on the other, where our coach stopped for half an hour. The tour returned to Oneroa Bay, which is the main centre of the island – we headed for the beach there after lunch at one of the town cafes. Note: there are no refreshment cafes on the shorefront, so if you are peckish, best to have something in town or take sandwiches with you. It’s a short five minute walk to the beach and the sea water is so clear, you can enjoy a pleasant paddle or have a swim.

Onetangi-beachThe ticket you have is valid for all buses on the island, so we got a bus to connect with the 4pm boat back to the city.

A really relaxing day, away from the hubbub of Auckland and if the weather is right you can’t beat that downtime at the beach – particularly if you’re not long off a long flight or about to undertake one.