The deceleration begins on the ship.
The crossing to starts at the old Ferry Building Waiheke, an island in the Hauraki Gulf just 14 kilometers east of Auckland. This island, which is roughly comparable in area to Sylt or Formentera, is considered to be unique: the coastline, which is more than 100 kilometers long, is home to secluded bays with sandy beaches, emerald-green water and rocky cliffs. The hilly east is made up of wild bush, and the mild Mediterranean climate thrives on vines, palms and olive trees.
“Wai” means water in the Maori language and “heke” means something like cascades, because a waterfall must have roared here that has long since dried up. But nature still has a firm grip on the island, especially in the less developed east. The most attractive is the 100 km long one Te Ara Hura hiking trailwhich can also be walked in sections.
Auckland dropouts discovered the island 40 years ago and turned it into a hippie retreat.
Traces of this are still visible today through the high number of shops with handicrafts. “We feel rich in lifestyle and nature,” is how one resident sums up the lifestyle of the 8,000 islanders. A fifth of them commute daily to Auckland by ferry to earn a living. Many of them with a laptop on their knees.
The locals appreciate the relaxed island life with the healthy distance to the metropolitan area of Auckland with its almost 1.5 million people, visible from some places far back on the horizon. They only call their main town Oneroa CBD, the ironic abbreviation stands for Central Business District. Oneroa doesn’t even have a traffic light and so far only has one supermarket – but a second one is under construction.
For visitors from Europe, Waiheke is a good first stop after landing in Auckland. Just after the long flight to New Zealand one can stay in one of the boutique hotels or holiday apartments acclimatize and get over jetlag more easily with walks on one of the dream beaches.
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