By Ferry — Fullers Ferries (tel. 09/367-9111; www.fullers.co.nz) offers hourly service (20 sailings daily) from downtown Auckland to Waiheke Island. Ferries depart from Pier 2, Quay Street, in Central City. Most sailings are met by buses, shuttles, and taxis at Matiatia, near the main township of Oneroa. The Fullers trip takes 35 minutes and costs NZ$35 round-trip for adults, NZ$18 for children ages 5 to 15.
The SeaLink Travel Group (tel. 0800/732-546 in NZ, or 09/300-5900; www.sealink.co.nz) passenger and vehicular ferry leaves from Half Moon Bay, Pakuranga, and arrives at the Kennedy Point Wharf farther east across the Surfdale Causeway. Ferries run every hour daily between 6am and 6pm. The fare is NZ$138 round-trip for a car and driver. Passengers without cars pay NZ$32 adults, NZ$18 children ages 5 to 15. Reservations are essential.
By Tour — Fullers Waiheke Explorer Tour (tel. 09/367-9111) gives you the option of being met on the island by a bus and taken on one of four tours, which last from 1 1/2 hours to all day. It's an excellent option if you're short on time and it includes unlimited bus travel on the island for the rest of the day. It departs daily at 10am and noon and costs NZ$49 for adults, NZ$25 for children 5 to 15 years old.
By Air — In 2009, the air-charter service Air Discovery (tel. 0800/247-347 in NZ, or 09/372-4480; www.airdiscovery.co.nz) began operating flights between Auckland Airport and Waiheke Island; the service whisks you to the island in just 15 minutes (NZ$149 per person each way).
Waiheke Island is approximately 19km (12 miles) long and has 90km (56 miles) of coastline, 40km (25 miles) of which is white-sand beaches. Oneroa, the largest shopping village on Waiheke, is a 15- to 20-minute uphill walk from Matiatia Wharf, where the passenger ferries dock. It's a 10-minute drive from the Kennedy Point Wharf, where the vehicular ferry docks. This western end of the island has the most settlement around Sandy and Enclosure Bays and Palm Beach. Ostend and Surfdale also have shops and cafes. The best supermarket is at Surfdale.
By Car — If you don't want to take a car to the island, hire a rental when you arrive. Waiheke Auto Rentals, Matiatia Wharf (tel. 09/372-8998; www.waihekerentals.co.nz), has good hourly rates and offers pickup and key drop-off service. Four-wheel-drive vehicles, scooters, motorbikes, and mountain bikes are also available. For bicycle rental, contact Waiheke Bike Hire, Matiatia Wharf car park (tel. 09/372-7937; www.waihekebikehire.co.nz), open daily from 9am (except Dec 25). Rates begin at NZ$35 per day and subsequent days are NZ$15 each (cash only).
By Bus — For information on Waiheke Island bus services visit Maxx (tel. 09/366-6400; www.maxx.co.nz). Buses serve most bays and beaches at the west end of the island. Pick up a schedule from bus drivers. Inquire about the All-Day Bus Pass, which costs NZ$8.50 adults, NZ$5 children ages 5 to 15, and NZ$22 family.
By Tour — An excellent way to get a feel for Waiheke is to go with Ananda Tours ★★ (tel. 09/372-7530 or 027/233-4565; www.ananda.co.nz). It offers art studio, gourmet food and wine, and ecowalking tours with knowledgeable guides; prices begin at NZ$105 per person.
The best place to get information is at Waiheke i-SITE, 118 Ocean View Rd., Oneroa (tel. 09/372-1234; www.waiheke.aucklandnz.com), open daily from 9am to 5pm. Their staff has extensive knowledge of available accommodations on the island. There is also an information kiosk at Matiatia Wharf.
For more information on Waiheke Island, check out www.waihekeonline.com and www.gotowaiheke.co.nz.
The Waiheke Island Wine Festival (tel. 09/372-7676; www.aucklandnz.com), in February, is a great chance to taste the island's terrific, award-winning wines. Tickets go on sale in October. Headland Sculpture on the Gulf (tel. 09/372-9907; www.sculptureonthegulf.co.nz) is a must-see in late January and early February. It's held every 2 years (check website for 2013 dates) and is an unforgettable outdoor exhibition of large scale contemporary sculpture along Waiheke Island's coastal walkway.