March 12, 2018
EcoZip’s ‘Top Free Activities on Waiheke Island’
One of most common questions our guides, who are all Waiheke locals, answer is: “What are your recommendations for other activities on the island?”
Some of these recommendations are so great that we gathered up our top free activity suggestions, as voted by our guides, and posted them below. Did we mention they were free?
In no particular order:
Visit the Far End of Waiheke Island (locals call it The Bottom End). What makes the Eastern End different to the more commonly visited Western End is summed up in this technical (or more accurately, humorous) picture below.
Around almost every corner is a sweeping view of mountains and wetlands, oceans and vineyards; hardly another person in sight. It’s so beautiful out this way, and the Stony Batter WW2 defense installation is a great place to visit; even when the tunnels are closed it’s still cool. To top it off there’s a vineyard by the sea where they do free wine tastings. Download the guide from Auckland council here
Saturday Ostend Market: We can’t guarantee you won’t spend money while you’re there, but it’s free to visit and it’s the best place to interact with locals that you will find anywhere on the island. There’s a little bit of everything Waiheke; food carts, local crafts, numerology readings, tree seedlings, book stalls, clothing, artwork, jewellery, fresh scones and tea, organic produce and lots more. For more information just click here.
Seafood BBQ in Whakanewha Regional Park: People have been collecting seafood and eating it here by the beach for centuries, and now that there are free BBQs on the beach, you can too. There’s nothing better than getting your dinner from the sea and then eating it hot as you sit by the water’s edge.
Bring your own seasoning, but we find bread, butter and a bit of salt pretty adequate. Here are a couple of websites you will need to plan this activity:
- http://regionalparks.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/whakanewharegionalpark .
Visit Artworks Gallery in Oneroa Village. Head to Te Whare Taonga O Waiheke; quite literally, ‘The Treasure House of Waiheke’. Waiheke Island has long been associated with great art and hosts the renowned biennale ‘Sculpture on the Gulf’ event. Located in the Artworks Community Centre in Oneroa Village, this famous community art gallery houses amazing work from Waiheke and around New Zealand. Just five minutes bus ride away from Matiatia Ferry Terminal, the art gallery is the most user-friendly activity on our list; there is great mobility access, free parking, and local staff everywhere to help you get the best from your time here. Unless you wish to purchase a piece of art (a distinct possibility) Artworks is a must-see and is entirely free to visit.
Night Walks: The nightlife on Waiheke is of the wild kind; glowworms, freshwater crayfish, eels, the Milky Way and bioluminescence in the water. Take a walk along the beach after dark and you may be lucky enough to see your footprints light up in the sand, or the waves glow blue as they break. Damp bush tracks have glowworms and nocturnal wildlife and the night sky is much darker on Waiheke, so the stars are much brighter here. Night walks are a totally free way to have a magical time on the island. For glowworms, we recommend the Rocky Bay and Whakanewha walks, or the Hekerua Bay and Palm Beach tracks. For more information about good walks you could do after dark, visit the Tourism Waiheke website.
Waiheke Historical Village and Fortified Pā: Waiheke Island has been home to people for many centuries and has gone through significant and rapid transformations over the past millennium, particularly in the last 250 years. To really get a sense of the amazing history of Waiheke Island, we recommend visiting the Waiheke Historical Village, and then taking the walk to the summit of Putiki-o-Kahu hilltop fortress; where you can see the huge food storage pits, terracing and midden sites atop the mountain, as well as commanding views over the island and surrounding waters. There is a suggested donation of $3, but they won’t stop you looking at the museum if you can’t pay, and the walk is free.
So there you have it – we hope our suggestions help you have the best possible time here on wonderful Waiheke Island!