Calling all wine lovers! If you want to sample some of New Zealand’s finest wines, visiting the wineries on Waiheke Island is one of the best things to add to your Auckland itinerary.
Waiheke Island is close to Auckland’s sprawling metropolis and yet a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s a destination that Aucklanders head to for some chill-out time amongst the vineyards scattered around the island.
Whether you visit the island for a day or longer, you are spoilt for choice with over 30 boutique wineries to sample some of New Zealand’s finest wines.
This post highlights the four Waiheke vineyards I visited in New Zealand during my round-the-world trip. I hope it will give you an idea of what to do on Waiheke and why you should add it to your Auckland travel itinerary.
Do you need to arrange travel insurance, car hire or accommodation? Please check out my resources page to help you plan your trip.
Useful Information About Waiheke Island
How do you get to Waiheke Island from Auckland?
What to expect at the wineries
30 vineyards range from the Goldie Estate, the oldest vineyard on Waiheke established in 1978, to younger and smaller vineyards using new technology to produce super modern wines.
All the wineries have tasting rooms and restaurants, and some provide accommodation.
Each cellar-door wine tasting costs approximately NZD 5 – NZD 10, meaning a visit to the Waiheke wineries and vineyards is an affordable experience that most budgets can afford!
How do you get around the wineries?
One of the best things about visiting the Waiheke vineyards is that some of the best ones are close to one another.
This allowed us to visit four of the most popular vineyards on the island with time to relax, wander around each estate, enjoy lunch, and sample the fine wine varieties.
Hire a car for the day – If you have a member of your party who is happy to drive (and not drink), this is a fabulous option as you can explore wherever you want to go on Waiheke.
We had our friend Steve. an Aucklander, as our designated driver, and he was happy to take us around.
He had pre-booked a rental car and, once we arrived at the ferry terminal on Waiheke, picked up the car, and we were good to go.
Suppose you are travelling around New Zealand on a road trip and have your own car, then why not bring it with you on the Sealink car ferry.
However, remember that you must never drink and drive and will have to miss out on the wine tastings.
Bringing your car is probably only cost-effective if you stay on the island for a few nights and use it for sightseeing away from the vineyards. Otherwise, you can grab buses and local taxis to Waiheke’s vineyards.
Book a combined ferry and hop-on-hop-off bus ticket, allowing you to visit 15 stops on Waiheke Island during your visit. Easy to use, and of course, no worries about drinking and driving!
Book a New Zealand Winery Tour and let someone else drive!
What is a Cellar Door?
If you are unfamiliar with wine terminology and haven’t visited wineries, you might wonder what a cellar door is.
It sounds like an entrance to a dank and dismal underground labyrinth full of cobwebs, but you couldn’t be further from the truth.
The term “cellar door” comes from when wine samples were first offered for tasting from winery premises.
Nowadays, a cellar door refers to the experience of tasting varieties of wines in a vineyard setting. So if you see a winery offering cellar door tastings, you know what a delightful experience awaits.
What is a Wine Flight?
A flight is a term winemakers use to describe a selection of wines. A flight is usually between three and eight glasses, presented for sampling and comparison.
Craft brewers can use the term similarly, so it becomes a beer flight.
However, it does not refer to a plane flight where you are served wine for the entire journey – sorry!
Now you know how to get to the Waiheke vineyards, it is time to share with you the four best Waiheke wineries that we visited on our day trip from Auckland.
Where can you stay on Waiheke Island?
If you want to stay overnight on the island, some of the larger wineries have accommodations. There are also various sensational places to stay on Waiheke Island, including BnBs and private rentals.
My Favourite Waiheke Island Wineries
Mudbrick Winery Estate
Location: 126 Church Bay Road, Waiheke Island, Oneroa 1971, New Zealand
A beautiful venue that has amazing views down to the ocean. This iconic New Zealand winery has no shortage of delectable wines. From merlot, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and Syrah, there is plenty of choice for all wine connoisseurs.
Its renowned restaurant is set in beautiful terraced gardens (with views towards the harbour and Auckland city). You can explore the grounds and vineyards whether or not you are a diner.
Unfortunately, we could not dine, but we still enjoyed wandering around the grounds and enjoying the scenery.
Mudbrick also boasts numerous accommodation options. If you choose, you can stay in one of their luxury cottages and enjoy the best sunsets on Waiheke from your own porch.
Cable Bay Winery Estate
Location: 12 Nick Johnstone Drive, Oneroa, Auckland 1840, New Zealand
A few minutes down the road from Mudbrick, we visited another upscale Waiheke winery – Cable Bay.
If you thought the views were stunning at Mudbrick, you’re in for yet another treat!
The tastings were very affordable, which meant we could indulge in our favourite New Zealand sauvignon blanc outside on the beautiful patio that overlooks the bay; such a magical setting and the reason most visitors to the island end up here.
Cable Bay Vineyards has had much success with its wines producing mostly white wines (our favourite Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Viognier).
Some reds are also produced here (Pinot Noir, Merlot, Malbec, and Syrah).
They have two award-winning restaurants; one formal and one casual. Bookings should be made in advance as they can get busy in high seasons.
Stonyridge Winery Estate
Location: 80 Onetangi Road, Waiheke Island, Auckland 1971, New Zealand
This was probably my favourite of all the Waiheke wineries, and we ended up staying here for lunch in the beautiful outdoor space. The wine tastings here range from NZD 5 to NZD 9 and can be enjoyed outside on the patio.
We opted for Stonyridge chardonnay and accompanied it with a tasty charcuterie platter. We spent a few hours relaxing with our friends before wandering around the vines and enjoying the sunshine.
While we were there, a helicopter landed on the estate. We later found out that this is a way of arriving on Waiheke Island if you are looking for a luxury experience or celebrating a special occasion. If you don’t want to land, you can book scenic helicopter tours around Auckland and Waiheke Island.
Stonyridge is often referred to as one of the top ten wineries in the world after its 1987 Larose was named one of the best reds ever produced in New Zealand. Even more of a reason to put it on your itinerary for the day!
Wild on Waiheke Winery Estate
Location: 82 Onetangi Road, Waiheke Island, Auckland 1971, New Zealand
Just up the road from Stonyridge Vineyards, you’ll find one of the most fun Waiheke Island wine-tasting spots, Wild on Waiheke.
It is more casual than the other three wineries we had previously visited and had a vast outdoor space with archery held amidst the vines and cool lawn games like bean bag toss (we found we all had quite a competitive streak).
Wine tastings are between NZD 4 – NZD 7; however, if you fancy a change from wine, the original Waiheke Wild Brewery offers a selection of home-brewed craft beers.
The men in our group opted for the Wild on Waiheke craft beers flight and gave them the thumbs up!
Wild On Waiheke has some great lunch and dinner options, from plates and platters to grazing boards, perfectly complimenting the wine selections.
We sat in the garden to enjoy our drinks, but should you want to dine indoors, there is a lovely bar and restaurant area.
Other Waiheke Wineries on the Island
Jurassic Ridge Winery – This vineyard stands out from the others because it only produces organic wines, and the owner is a professor who does all the work by hand.
The secret to his yield is that instead of using oak barrels to age his wine, he uses terracotta pots, a method used over 6000 years ago!
Peacock Sky Winery – another spectacular vineyard known for its fabulous wine and food tasting opportunities.
Tantalus Winery – is in the heart of Waiheke Island’s Onetangi Valley and is one of the finest vineyards on the island.
Relax in the airy restaurant nestled within the vines, savour a crisp white, or visit the underground lounge for a home-brewed craft beer or a cocktail.
Kennedy Point Winery – The only certified organic vineyard on Waiheke and set amongst 300-year-old pohutukawa trees.
Delicious local oysters, cheeses and smoked salmon, the perfect combination, can accompany a cellar door wine tasting experience.
Other Activities on Waiheke (besides the wineries)
Walk around Waiheke
The Art Trail Walk is a leisurely 3k walk from the ferry terminal, taking in art installations on the route.
A longer trail is The Northern Walk, a 2-3 hour walk perfect for those wanting to see and discover as much of Waiheke as possible without wandering too far from the passenger ferry terminal.
For further information on walking routes, visit the Tourism Waiheke website.
Zipline in Waiheke
If you are looking for an adrenaline rush, this is your pastime!
Whizz across the vineyards with the Waiheke Ziplining Company. A fun experience for all the family.
Ride a Segway in Waiheke
See the island on two wheels as you glide through vineyards and along beaches with a sunset Segway Tour.
Relax on a beach in Waiheke
Be ready to discover some of New Zealand’s best beaches on Waiheke Island.
My favourite was the Oneroa beach in the main town, with miles of golden sand lined with pohutukawa trees offering shade on hot days.
This beach is perfect for unwinding with friends and family. I wonder which beach will be your favourite?
Visit the Waiheke Honey House and Cafe
If you love honey, visiting here will tingle your taste buds.
Set in pretty gardens with resident native pukeko birds that come over when the owner calls them, this is a relaxing spot that doesn’t involve wine.
Free New Zealand honey tastings, delicious cakes and coffee make this a stop that should be on every visitor’s itinerary before heading back to Auckland. For Honey House Cafe reviews, check Tripadvisor.
All good things have to end, and after a fantastic day full of wine, food and good company, it was time to return our rental car to the ferry terminal and board the ferry for our return to Auckland city.
I hope that one day I will get the chance to return to this beautiful, unspoilt island in the Pacific Ocean, but until then, Au Revoir Waiheke!
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