WAIHEKE ADVENTURES FOR FAMILIES
It’s as close as you can get to the laid back vibe of the pacific islands within 40 minutes of Auckland. Even better there are over 30 vineyards and a dozen wonderful beaches to pick from. But how do you keep the kids entertained and active on Waiheke? Here are our top tips:
TOP FIVE FAMILY ACTIVITIES
Waiheke on water – kayaking or paddleboarding
We have got quite blase about it over the years but the views as you pull into Matiatia are quite beautiful. If you take time to look up from your coffee – ok sorry, if you have a chance in between stopping the kids running up and down the stairs to the top deck – then just pause to take in the approach to Waiheke and switch your body over to “island time”.
A way to extend your time on the water is to hire a kayak from Kayak Waiheke. They are perfectly located just by the ferry terminal and you can hire twin kayaks (perfect for kids) for $30 an hour, $15 additional hours. If you prefer a guided tour then they have a couple to choose from. Personally I find “Miss Eight” loses interest after a while so the 2-hour tour may be better than a full afternoon.
For More Information: Click Here
If you fancy paddleboarding then Kayak Waiheke also rents out boards. You may prefer though to go to where there is slightly less boat traffic in Oneroa or Onetangi. Boards can be rented from Waiheke Board Riders. We used them in Onetangi one rather windy day. Let’s just say we got to know a local boat owner very well as he sat on the deck of his luxury launch watching us battle our way back up wind! If it’s your first time check the wind – it can be hard work in the wrong conditions!
For More Information: Click Here
A QUICK NOTE ON CYCLING WAIHEKE WITH KIDS
Yes you can hire bikes from Kayak Waiheke along with a few other places in Oneroa but Waiheke is deceptively hilly! Even in my fit triathlon days i would have to mentally prepare myself for the never ending ups and downs of the island. There is barely a flat stretch to be seen.
E-bikes are definitely the way to go but honestly with younger kids i would find the terrain and the reasonably busy roads (yep double decker buses on Waiheke!) make it not worth the risk of a meltdown!
KID FRIENDLY WALKS
Fancy keeping your feet on dry land? There are a lot of beautiful walks on Waiheke. If you want to keep it simple and flat then Onetangi beach is your best bet. At just under 2kms long a stroll up and down there can keep the younger kids going (if you can lure them out of the sea).
For something a little more challenging and off the beaten tourist track some of the easiest walks to access are in Matiatia straight off the ferry. Whichever direction you choose you can find a walk which will take the average family about 2 hours.
Turn right out of the ferry and you will take in Te Whetumatarau headland with its spectacular views back to the city. It’s along this stretch that you will find the annual Sculpture on the Gulf – a 2km walk taking in unusual works of art along the way . This year’s dates are not yet announced but you can find more information here: https://sotg.nz/
If you like you can also check in to Cable Bay Vineyard en route for a quick beverage. The restaurant is definitely not one to take kids to (way to posh!) but with the huge rolling lawn and bean bags there are worse places for the kids to hang out while you sample the local grape juice.
Turn left out of the ferry and it will take you around the headland to Cable Bay with beautiful views over Rangitoto. It’s also a great path on which to play “property porn” ie “when I win my lottery millions which mansion will I buy?”
Both walks can be found on this map here: Click Here
Want to find a way to get the kids to take a walk and not even realize they are doing it? Disc golf can be the answer! It’s fun, it’s outdoors and it requires minimal training and skill. Ok, maybe some skill would help………
Kids of all ages can give it a bash – its a step up from throwing the frisbee around on the beach and it’s a beautiful way to take in some rolling Waiheke scenery. Conveniently located in Onetangi so a reward of great views for the parents. For the kids, I recommend buddying up in teams with a parent to keep them motivated (lesson learned!!)
For More Information: Click Here
MAN O’ WAR PICNIC & FAMILY GAMES
Many people don’t venture off the well-trodden path (road) from Oneroa to Onetangi. But if you do have a car, or even better a boat, then head on down to the “other end” of the island for one of the most scenic vineyards on the island – possibly in the world?
For More Information: Click Here
“Kids in a vineyard? Really?” I hear you cry. Well, the beauty of Man O’ War is the extensive lawns are tailor-made for good old fashioned games such as lawn cricket, skittles, petanque, and swingball. We have even been known to have pony rides there over the Christmas holidays. You are welcome to take a picnic and of course, it would be rude not to indulge yourself in the bright and open tasting room as the kids play.
Don’t have a car? Over the high season that’s no problem as Man O War run their own bus! Check out the details here: https://www.manowar.co.nz/book-a-bus
FISHING AT ORAPIU
The Hauraki gulf around Waiheke is of course littered with weekend recreational fishing boats. If you can’t afford the boat then Orapiu Bay is a pretty idyllic spot to take the fishing rods and teach your kids how to get started. With plenty of small fish, it’s a popular place for the children to hang out and learn their classic kiwi craft.
You will need a car to get there and there is not much out that end of the island so pack a picnic or check out Passage Rock for lunch. It has a children’s playground and lots of room to run around and the yummy pizzas are perfect for family sharing! It’s one of our favourite vineyards on the island: https://www.passagerock.co.nz/
TOP FIVE CHILD FRIENDLY PLACES TO EAT ON WAIHEKE
Talking of eating (i know we have already but there are just so many great places to eat on the island!) here are our top 5 recommendations for child-friendly dining on Waiheke:
WILD ON WAIHEKE (ROAD TO ONETANGI)
We have been to Wild on Waiheke SO many times over the years. It’s not so much for the food or wine (which is great) but with children it’s by far the easiest and therefore most relaxing place to enjoy a nice, leisurely meal as there is plenty to occupy the kids. The large play area with a trampoline, playground, outdoor chess (more a novelty than true chess champions in training we find) and plenty of room to run around means quite frankly your kids will always entertain themselves while you partake in a local beverage in peace.
A kids menu means they are also catered for, however with so many play options we find it’s often hard to keep them in their seats long enough to eat!
Older kids can participate in the archery but there is an over 10 years old age limit. More information and online bookings can be found here: https://wildonwaiheke.co.nz/
ROCKY BAY BAKERY (ROCKY BAY)
A little off the beaten track but worth the drive, bus or walk (on the Te Ara Hura trail) is this little cafe in the Omiha memorial hall. Along with lovely coffee they do great scones and other delicious baked goods. Rocky bay is, as you would expect, rocky (does what it says on the tin!) but it is always good to get off the well trodden path to Onetangi and visit other parts of the island. Let the smell of these sweet scones lure you over there:
ISLAND GELATO (ONEROA)
It’s impossible to go past Island Gelato as the kids will spot the queue for this quirky container stuffed with gelato! As soon as they cotton on to it any visit to Waiheke becomes synonymous with a trip to the “ice cream” shop.
But is it worth the wait? Well, simply yes. I am not a massive ice cream fan but i can’t go past this place! Their lemon, thyme and shortbread flavour is becoming my staple and they have Allpress coffee too! https://www.islandgelato.co.nz/
Just a quick trivia question for you: what exactly is the difference between ice cream and gelato? Answers on a Waiheke postcard please. Or if we are going to be all “modern and millenial” about it – drop us a message online to our Insta page or Facebook page
CHARLIE FARLEY’S (ONETANGI)
For a while there weren’t many other decent options in Onetangi. That is changing though with the opening of but it’s still hard to go past the institution that is Charlie Farley’s. Outdoors with a beautiful view of the beach, plenty of room for the kids to move around and an all day menu that suits all the family it is a “go to” staple for some hot chips and beer after a day at the beach.
ISLAND COFFEE (OSTEND)
Always bustling on with the Saturday morning market, Ostend now has the island’s supermarket (Countdown) relocated into the village centre. Need a coffee to perk you up as you stock up on picnic supplies? Try Island coffee. Suppliers of coffee to many Waiheke cafes and restaurants they have of course superb coffee but also lots of simple baked treats in the quaint cabinet which can be enjoyed in their small garden
It can be a bit tricky to find as it is tucked away behind the main street. You can find it on google maps here.
Ok ok, so i know that’s five already! Sorry but we know SO many great places to eat we just had to sneak in a 6th!!
Want to eat at the beach but can’t be bothered to take a picnic or get dressed to go to the cafe? Then Dragonfired has your answer. This mobile pizza truck has been based at Little Oneroa beach for years and is sometimes found at Palm Beach. Their simple but delicious menu of wood fired pizzas and polenta boxes is available all day in summer and is a good evening takeaway option too.
“Little O” beach, as it’s locally known, also has one of the best children’s playgrounds on the island totally covered in sunshades. Win, win!
They can get really busy in summer so if you have hungry kids i’d recommend ordering in advance, details here: http://dragonfired.co.nz/