Today I went to paradise.
Not the kind of paradise that involves half a chicken, medium hotness, with a side of chips and garlic bread from Nandos. Oh no. As good as that tastes, the kind of paradise I discovered today consisted of incredibly blue oceans, sandy beaches, amazing bike routes through some of the tallest trees you’ll ever see and a sense of zen looking out onto the distant world.
This paradise is known as Waiheke Island.
To be totally honest with you, I had never heard of this place until I brought Lonely Planets ‘Discover New Zealand’ guide where they listed it as the number one thing to do whilst in Auckland. Ironically it is an island off from Auckland, but considering it’s in the ‘Borough of Auckland’ it’s still considered to be Auckland.
‘Discover New Zealand’ even went on to say that it may well be the highlight of your trip to NZ. Big shoes to fill after that statement. As I later discovered, Lonely Planet were not lying.
I was very eager to explore as much of the island as I could fit in, so I was up, showered, consumed my free bowl of cornflakes from the hostel and out by 8.15am. After picking up an apple from the local convenience store (yep, those cornflakes didn’t quite feel that empty stomach void) I made it to the ferry 20 minutes before its 9am departure time.
The views from the ferry was like something from a ‘greetings from Auckland’ postcard as the aesthetically pleasing city architecture started to look smaller and smaller as we sailed further towards our destination.
I decided to just stand out on the dock to soak up the views and not too long after everyone else seemed to have had the same idea. The islands we past looked like the film sets from Lord of the Rings. The untouched greenery they inhabited and the natural beauty of them was jaw dropping.
I tried my best to preserve my phone battery so I had something that worked when taking photo’s. The bridge camera I came out with seems to swallow up battery life in 15 short minutes. Introducing Matt’s angry reaction….GRRRRR.
Anyhow, after a 40 minute ferry ride we had arrived to the island. I read the night before that you could hire a bike for the day to explore the island so I thought about it as I travelled. Then once I stepped off the dock the first thing I noticed was a shed in the car park that read simply as….’BIKES’.
It was like fate wanted me to.
After paying the super friendly man to rent a mountain bike for the day, off I went up the road into the island. I say off I went, it was more of a wobble discovering that I could be the first person on earth that forgot how to ride a bike.
Once I finally took off (took off, not fell off) I could see within about 10 minutes the natural beauty of Waiheke Island. Cycling down the road, I was surrounded by greening and a deafening silence which seemed surreal in a way. I cycled down Ocean View Rd which confused me as there were only trees and gardens around me.
Then it hit. The reason why the road was named what it was. I cycled past a few local shops to see such a stunning view. What I was looking at was Oneroa Bay. It was such a sight.
A found a path through the woods that looked like it led to the ocean, so looking down at my bike I thought ‘wellllll, why not?’ and began cycling down it. The steep hill that followed introduced me to the bikes breaking system and I soon learnt that it was easier to stop by using the back wheel break than the front. I had visions of myself flying over the handle bars.
Something about riding against the slight wind against my face felt rather relaxing.
I had made it to the beach. My word, it was such an amazing sight. I couldn’t believe how silent it was. There was the odd local resident walking their dog along the current but other than that I had the sandy beach all to myself. I couldn’t believe how blue the water was. The sand was soft and with a slight appearance from the sun, you could see the light reflecting on the far ocean.
I sat on the sand to take in the incredible scene in front of me for quite some time. Not in a rush to leave, I rested my bike on the grass area not too far away and began to read my book, taking in the sight after finishing each page.
About 40 minute to an hour later I began to ride on, cycling along bike trails and roads. From time to time I would glance at my map trying to work out where I was and where I wanted to go before eventually I said ‘sod it.’ I decided to just ride and see where I ended up.
I loved riding along the paths this paradise had to offer. It felt like I was stopping every 5 minutes to take a photo of the beauty it was offering.
After many steep hills that made my legs hate me, I came to an open road that made me realise how high I was. I had the most fantastic view of the ocean and the islands that were further ahead of it. There was a path that read ‘TRACK TO LITTLE PALM BEACH.’ It was a steep path with a few steps in the distance, so I decided to chain my bike to one of the road signs nearby and make my way down.
After a short walk down I made it to a lookout point that had me once again picking my jaw up from the floor. It was such a beautiful sight. Again, I was in no rush to leave so I decided to sit on the bench, give my legs a rest, sip on some water and just take the moment in. What I was looking out on was exactly what I expected to see in New Zealand. I just didn’t realise just how eye pleasing it would be.
I made my way back up the track and as I began to unlock my bike a local walked by to say hi. Returning the favour she seemed to be surprised that I was British and then went on to tell me how she used to live in Cornwall. She spoke about a lot of things, with Auckland not being the locals favourite being mentioned. I’m beginning to understand that central Auckland (Queen St) has been made too much like their own Red District and that the best places Auckland has to offer are away from this.
For the rest of the day I just cycled. I continued to see some amazing sights and stopped at one of the small local restaurants to grab some food. Even there they had balcony seating that offered an amazing view out onto the island and the sea that surrounded it.
After exploring a little more and working off the giant burger I just ate, it was time to say goodbye. Waiheke Island has so much to offer. I spent a whole lot of hours there today and only got to explore about a quarter of the island. There are regional parks, a history museum, more beaches and more hiking routes I want to explore one day.
Waiheke Island is definitely a paradise worth visiting.
CLICK HERE to check out a quick vid 😀