waiheke island view with pohutakawa and harbour
Auckland,  New Zealand,  North Island

How To Get Around Waiheke Island (By Car, Bike, Bus & On Foot)

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links on this page may be affiliate links (*). If you have any questions, please read my full disclaimer here. Thank you for your support!

Last Updated On 2nd June 2022 By Lauren | Wild Lovely World

Are you planning your trip to Waiheke Island and wondering how to get around the island once you get there? You’ve come to the right place! In this post, you’ll learn how to explore Waiheke Island by walking, using the bus, cycling and driving.


Once you arrive on Waiheke Island by ferry, there are numerous options for getting around and exploring the island.

Waiheke Island has a good public bus system. Using the bus network, you can explore Waiheke’s major townships, as well as beaches and wineries. If you prefer the ease of a tour bus, the Explorer Bus is a great option which will take you to Waiheke’s best tourist attractions.

Keen to explore at your own pace? Then consider taking your car or hiring a car on the island. If you enjoy walking trails, Waiheke has many of them. You can visit the best of Waiheke in one day by exploring on foot.

A popular option for getting around Waiheke Island is to cycle. Take your bike on the ferry or hire an e-bike when you arrive.

Keep reading to learn more about all these options and more!

Find out everything you need to know about the ferry to Waiheke Island in this post: How To Get To Waiheke Island From Auckland (Fullers360 vs Sealink)

How To Get Around Waiheke Island

More Auckland & Waiheke Island Inspiration! 💖 :

lauren exploring vineyards on waiheke island new zealand
Lauren exploring Mudbrick Vineyards on Waiheke Island, New Zealand

Exploring Waiheke Island On Foot / By Walking 👣

If you choose to explore Waiheke Island on foot, then you’ll be pleased to hear that there are many awesome places you can visit within walking distance to the Matiatia Ferry Terminal. Check out this post with 8 Best Things To Do Within Walking Distance To The Matiatia Ferry Terminal.

It is possible to enjoy much of what Waiheke Island has to offer on foot if you stick to the western side of the island. A 20-minute walk from the Matiatia Ferry Terminal is Oneroa, one of the island’s main townships. Oneroa has plenty of awesome things to do. There are many cafes, restaurants and shops here, as well as the beaches.

A little further is the village of Surfdale, which also has a beach and a few cafes and restaurants.

Walking is also a good way to explore Waiheke Island’s hills, bush and beaches. All over Waiheke Island, there are many tracks and paths in the bush or away from the roadside so you can walk peacefully away from traffic. See a map of walking tracks on Waiheke here.

Around the Matiatia area, there are plenty of lovely coastal and bush walks that can keep you occupied.

Waiheke has a hilly terrain so be prepared to walk up and down hills to reach your destination, wherever it is on the island.

If you want to explore deeper into the central and eastern sides of the island, then you will be better off making use of the bus system, having a car or a bike. Keep reading to learn more about how to explore the island by bus, car and bike.

Discover all the best things to see in Oneroa in this post: 11 Awesome Things To Do In Oneroa, Waiheke Island

stairs leading the path to fishermans rock on waiheke island auckland new zealand
Stairs leading down to Fishermans Rock near Oneora on Waiheke Island

Exploring Waiheke Island By Bus (Public Bus Or Explorer Bus) 🚌

There are two ways to explore Waiheke Island by bus – you can use the public bus system or get a pass for the Hop-On Hop-Off Explorer Bus. I will explain more about these two different options below.

How To Travel Waiheke Island On The Public Bus

waiheke island bus network map
Waiheke Island Bus Network Map

Waiheke Island has a good public bus network. The buses operate frequently and travel to the major townships, villages and points of interest on the island. You can easily explore Waiheke Island just by using the public transport system. If you’d like to know the best places you can visit on the bus and which bus routes to take to get there, check out this post: 16 Fun Things To Do On Waiheke Island Without A Car

AT HOP Card

If you want to travel by bus, then you will need to purchase an AT HOP card if you don’t already have one. The AT HOP card is Auckland’s public transport system card. It can be used all over Auckland to travel on buses, trains and ferries. The public bus system is cashless and cannot yet accept EFTPOS payments.

It can be a little annoying to have to purchase a card to use the public bus system. However, if you are planning to take a few journeys then it will be worth the expense.

How To Get An AT HOP Card

The AT HOP card costs around $10 and can be purchased from convenience stores anywhere in Auckland. If you arrive on Waiheke without one, you can purchase one at the Four Square grocery shop in Oneroa. Once purchased, the card must then be pre-loaded with credit (for example, $10) that can be used to pay for your rides.

How To Save Money Using An AT HOP Card

Travelling by bus is a great way to save money as the fares can be quite cheap. The bus is an affordable way to explore Waiheke Island.

The card is used to tap on and tap off when you board or exit the bus at the start and end of your journey. The card automatically calculates how much you should pay for your journey.

By using the AT HOP card, you will access discounted fares (for example $2 rather than $4 for the journey). Fares are usually a few dollars per journey.

You can use one card to pay for more than one person riding the bus. For example, if you are a couple then you will only need to use one AT HOP card for both of you. If you do use one card for more than one person, then the first person’s fare is at a reduced rate (for example $2). The next person will pay the standard fare (for example $4). If you want to pay for more than one person, then let the driver know how many passengers you want to pay for and where you are going when you board the bus. The driver will then deduct the fare from your card. You also need to scan the card again before you get off the bus, to make sure you are charged correctly.

If you do end up getting an AT HOP card, you can also use this to travel all around Auckland. By using the card, you will also pay reduced fare rates than not using the card, so in the long-term, it makes it a good value for money option.

For more information about AT HOP, check out their website here.

Where Can You Visit By Public Bus On Waiheke Island

You can explore much of Waiheke Island by using the public bus system. The buses travel to beaches, wineries, museums, art galleries, shops and more.

There are five major bus routes on Waiheke. They are the 50A, 50B, 501, 502 and 503.

All of the buses begin their journey at the Matiatia Ferry Terminal on the western side of Waiheke Island. This is good to know because if you are travelling to Waiheke Island and want to explore by bus, it is recommended to arrive at the Matiatia Ferry Terminal. The Fullers360 ferry will take you to the Matiatia Ferry Terminal on Waiheke Island from Auckland. Make sure that you get the Fullers360 ferry, rather than the Sealink ferry which arrives at a different terminal on Waiheke Island (Kennedy Point).

To learn more about travelling to Waiheke Island from Auckland by ferry, read this post here: How To Get To Waiheke Island From Auckland (Fullers360 vs Sealink)

Here is where all of Waiheke Island’s public buses travel to:

50A – Onetangi Beach (The Strand)

50B – Onetangi shops (Third Avenue)

501 – Kennedy Point Ferry Terminal

502 – Palm Beach and Omiha (Rocky Bay)

503 – Oneroa (operates in summer only)

All of the buses travel through Oneroa and the 50A, 50B and 502 also travel through Ostend. Oneroa is one of the major townships on Waiheke Island. Ostend is the place to go food shopping as they have the island’s only major supermarket (Countdown).

To see Waiheke Island’s public bus network, visit their website here.

Discover the 8 Best Places To Visit By Bus On Waiheke Island

ferry travelling to waiheke island from auckland
Photo by Pascal Habermann on Unsplash

How To Travel Waiheke Island On The Hop-On Hop-Off Explorer Bus

If you want an easy option for travelling around Waiheke by bus, then I recommend the hop-on-hop-off Waiheke Island Explorer Bus.

The Explorer Bus is a tour bus that does a continuous loop around the island all day and has 8 major stops. The journey starts and ends at the Matiatia Ferry Terminal and passes through the main townships of Oneroa, Ostend and Onetangi as well as the best tourist destinations and attractions. Travel across Waiheke Island on the Explorer Bus to visit vineyards, beaches and much more.

Buying your ticket for this bus is a set price of around $69. You don’t need to think about fares or buy an AT HOP card! You can simply jump on board the Waiheke Explorer Bus and get off where you like.

By using the hop-on-hop-off bus you’ll not have to worry about getting off at the right stop. There is a tour guide and live commentary on board the bus so you’ll know exactly where you’re going.

Once you purchase your ticket, you can use the bus as many times as you like. Jump on board at your leisure throughout the whole day. Buses run from Matiatia from the first ferry at 9 am to the last ferry at 7 pm.

You can see all the stops and book your tickets online here. Simples!

For more information about the Explorer Bus, to see the timetable and book your tickets, click here* (Viator).

Where You Can Visit On The Waiheke Explorer Bus

The Waiheke Explorer Bus visits the best tourist spots that Waiheke Island has to offer. Starting and finishing at Matiatia Ferry Terminal, the bus travels in a continuous loop throughout the day.

You can travel on the bus to Waiheke’s top vineyards and wineries, including Mudbrick and Cable Bay.

The Explorer Bus also goes to Waiheke’s best beaches, such as Onetangi and Oneroa.

The Waiheke Museum and Waiheke Community Art Gallery are on the route.

If you like shopping, then the bus will take you to boutiques in Oneroa as well as the major supermarket and weekly market in Ostend.

I’ve written this post that explains the best places to visit on the Explorer Bus and the stops to hop on and hop off at. Check it out here: 16 Fun Things To Do On Waiheke Island Without A Car

waiheke island beaches auckland new zealand
Photo by Look Up Look Down on Unsplash

Exploring Waiheke Island By Bike 🚲

Cycling around Waiheke is a popular option for many visitors to Waiheke Island. A lot of people enjoy hiring an e-bike for the day and cycling around all the wineries. However, many people do not know that many of the wineries can be accessed on foot or the bus. Therefore it is not necessary to hire a bike to get around. Also, I would suggest that if you are visiting many wineries and drinking a lot then you will be better off walking or using the bus to get around!

Waiheke has many hills so it can be challenging to cycle. The island is also much bigger than you might expect and many of Waiheke’s best attractions are spaced out across the island.

That said, it can be really fun to enjoy Waiheke’s scenery and enjoy the nature outside on a bike. If you put in the effort to cycle then you will be rewarded with beautiful views and you can give yourself a well-deserved treat from the cafes and restaurants you can visit.

Cycling On Waiheke Island

Waiheke does have cycle paths along the main roads and the locals are quite used to cyclists across the island. Therefore Waiheke is seen as quite cycle-friendly so it is reasonably safe. You should still be careful of cars and wear a visibility jacket if you have one.

Wearing a helmet on a bike is a legal requirement in New Zealand. If you don’t wear one, you could get a fine if the police spot you!

Hiring An E-Bike

If you are keen to explore Waiheke by bike, I would recommend hiring an e-bike. As mentioned earlier, Waiheke is quite hilly so you will save some energy by using an e-bike. The island is also quite big and much bigger than many people expect. So with the assistance of an e-bike, you will be able to travel further and see more without getting so tired.

Check out this offer for full-day e-bike hire here*, including helmet (legally required in New Zealand), lock and maps/itineraries (Viator).

Explore Waiheke Island on foot, by bike and by bus: 16 Fun Things To Do On Waiheke Island Without A Car

view of oneroa bay from oneroa waiheke island
Photo by Sharyn NZ on Pixabay

Exploring Waiheke Island By Car 🚗

If you have a car on Waiheke Island then you will have no restrictions on where you go! You will have the ultimate freedom to do and see as you wish all across the island. You can take your car to Waiheke Island or hire a car when you get there. Discover more about these two options below.

Taking Your Own Car

You can take your car on the ferry to Waiheke Island with Sealink. It will cost you a pretty penny to do so, but you will have the freedom to explore the whole island if you choose. Find out everything you need to know about taking your car on the ferry to Waiheke Island in this post: How To Get To Waiheke Island From Auckland (Fullers360 vs Sealink)

Hiring A Rental Car

Car rentals are available on Waiheke Island as well. To search for a rental car, try these companies:

EN - 728x90 Save Money 728x90

Tips For Driving On Waiheke Island

If you are going to drive on Waiheke Island, then there are a few things to note.

Besides the main roads between the villages, many of the roads on Waiheke are narrow, winding, single lanes and have poor visibility. This includes the suburban areas surrounding the villages and up in the hills. Waiheke is quite a hilly island so there are some steep drops and bendy roads to navigate. Drive at a sensible speed and take care when driving in these conditions.

If you venture further east on Waiheke, towards Stony Batter Historic Reserve for example, then you will encounter many unsealed, gravel roads. They are unsealed for many km, so makes for a bumpy and dusty ride! Make sure that you check your tyres and vehicle condition before taking your car on unsealed roads. If you rent a car, double-check if you are allowed to take the car on unsealed roads as part of the hiring policy.

There are petrol stations on Waiheke as well as tyre shops and mechanics in case you get into trouble. However bear in mind that prices on the island are much higher than on the mainland, so I would recommend you try to avoid any mechanical repairs while you are there if you want to save money.

More Ways To Explore Waiheke Island

We’ve explained how to get around Waiheke by bus, bike, on foot and by driving, but what about other options for exploring? Check out these other ways to get around the island if you want to try something different.

Small-Group Tours (Wine Tastings) 🍇

A great way to explore the vineyards and wineries on Waiheke is to join a small group bus tour. These tour buses take you around to the best cellar doors on the island so you can try all of Waiheke’s famous wines. Waiheke is known as the ‘Island of Wine’ in New Zealand, so wine tasting is a must-do activity!

There are many tours to choose from. I recommend checking out these top Waiheke Island bus tours on Viator*. They all have awesome reviews, so you are bound to pick a good one! If you need a recommendation, then try the Enjoi Premium Full-Day Waiheke Wine Tour. This excellent tour will take you to 3-4 award-winning vineyards with a knowledgeable local guide. Try 3-5 wines at each vineyard and travel in a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle.

Hiring A Scooter 🛵

If you fancy doing something a bit different, then you could hire a scooter to explore Waiheke Island. Local company Island Scoot rents out retro scooters for the day from $89. Rental includes insurance and a helmet.

For more information on scooter rental on Waiheke Island, visit the Island Scoots website here.

Waiheke Taxi Companies 🚕

Waiheke Island does not have Uber or Ola, but there are local taxi companies on the island to help you get around. Check out these companies if you are looking for a taxi:

  • Waiheke Shuttles – offer group transport shuttles
  • Waiheke Island Taxis – have set fares to vineyard restaurants and do taxi tours around the island
  • Island Taxis – offer tours around the island and transfers to and from the ferry terminals
  • Waiheke Express Taxis – offer tours to vineyards, restaurants, beaches and general sightseeing and you can create your own tour
waiheke island vineyards
Photo by Jon Moore on Unsplash

The Best Things To Do On Waiheke Island

Now you know how to get around the island and discover all the best things to do there. From wineries, beaches, shopping, tours, adventure sports and much more, there is so much to do on Waiheke Island. For inspiration on the best things to do on Waiheke, check out these suggestions:

11 Awesome Things To Do In Oneroa

Oneroa is one of the main townships on Waiheke Island. The village is charming and quaint, with lots of eateries, beaches, walks, galleries and boutiques. Discover everything you need to know in this post: 11 Awesome Things To Do In Oneroa, Waiheke Island.

10 Best Beaches On Waiheke Island & What To Do There

Waiheke Island has some of the best beaches in New Zealand. Each beach has its own character and is best suited to different activities. In this post, 10 Best Beaches On Waiheke Island & What To Do There, find out the most spectacular beaches on Waiheke Island and what you can plan to do at each beach.

16 Fun Things To Do On Waiheke Island Without A Car

If you’re travelling without a car to Waiheke Island, then check out this post: 16 Fun Things To Do On Waiheke Island Without A Car. The post explains all the best things to do by walking or using the bus to explore Waiheke and how to get there.

Full-Day Bike Rental

Discover Waiheke’s best beaches, activities and wineries at your own pace with an e-bike! An e-bike rental will help you cycle Waiheke’s hilly terrain with ease! Rental includes the bike, helmet, a lock and itineraries/maps. Once you’ve finished, the bikes will be collected from you making it a stress-free experience. Get a full day’s rental from $110 per group (up to 8 people)For more information on Full-Day Bike Rental in Waiheke Island click here* (Viator).

Explorer Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tickets

Catch the ferry from Auckland and explore Waiheke on the hop-on/hop-off tour bus. Taking the bus is a flexible and cost-effective tour option on Waiheke Island. The Explorer bus goes to all the major stops on the island, including vineyards and beaches. The bus stops at 16 stops including the Matiatia Ferry Terminal, Oneroa Village, Onetangi Beach (another awesome beach on Waiheke), Mudbrick Vineyard and Cable Bay Vineyard and more! Tickets from $68 per person. For more information on the Explorer Bus click here* (Viator).

Zipline & Native Forest Adventure Trip

The Zipline & Native Forest Adventure is a different activity to do on Waiheke Island. Glide over a forest canopy in native New Zealand bush. You can go with a friend and enjoy 3 200-meter ziplines together. The zipline glides over a vineyard! You will also get panoramic views of the beautiful Hauraki Gulf. The trip includes pickup and drop off from the Matiatia Ferry Terminal. From $129 per person. For more information on the Waiheke Island Zipline Adventure click here* (Get Your Guide).

Premium Full-Day Waiheke Wine Tour

Explore Waiheke’s top vineyards with a knowledgeable local guide and enjoy wine tastings on this fun premium wine tour. The small-group tour onboard the airconditioned minibus will give you a personalised and luxury adventure. This tour lasts for around 6 hours and has 5-star reviews. From $179. For more information on the Premium Full Day Waiheke Wine Tour, click here* (Viator).

Premium Food & Wine Tour With Platter Lunch

Make your own way to Waiheke Island and then discover local produce and wines from top boutique vineyards on this fully-guided food and wine tour. The Waiheke Island Premium Food & Wine Tour lasts around 5.5 hours. Your guide will meet you at the Matiata Wharf (or your Waiheke Island accommodation) and will transport you across the island. Taste fresh and award-winning local foods of the island along with great wines. Your tour also includes a platter lunch at one of the island’s top vineyard restaurants. This is a really popular tour with 4.9/5 star reviews from previous visitors! From $215 per person. For more information on the Waiheke Premium Food & Wine Tour click here* (Get Your Guide).

Find Epic Tours & Activities On Get Your Guide

Search For Accommodation On Waiheke Island

Finding a place to stay for your trip to Waiheke Island? Take a look at options on Booking.com, Hostelworld and Tripadvisor. Or use the search box below:

Never pay for accommodation while travelling in New Zealand again! Join Kiwi Housesitters and get FREE accommodation in beautiful homes across the North and the South Islands.

How To Get Around Waiheke Island (By Car, Bike, Bus & On Foot) – Thanks For Reading!

In this post, we have looked at various options for getting around Waiheke. From cycling, driving, using the bus, joining a tour and walking, there are many options for exploring the island. With this information, you can make the best decision on how to get around based on what activities you hope to do, what is most convenient for your itinerary and for your budget. I hope that this post helps you to explore Waiheke to the fullest!

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