It’s been called the jewel in the crown of the stunning Hauraki Gulf and is only a short, scenic 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland.
Waiheke Island is surrounded by hidden bays, lined with stretches of pristine white sandy beaches, sparkling blue water and streaked with tracks of stunning grape vines.
The tourist hotspot has been building a reputation for its wines since the first boutique vineyards were established in the 1980s.
Waiheke now prides itself with over 50 vineyards, and it’s known across the globe as New Zealand’s island of wine.
Most of Waiheke’s winery owners are focused on producing quality rather than quantity, making their wine unique.
Many people in the wine industry get extremely passionate about Waiheke vineyards.
Viticulturist, Ivan Alesich, who tends to over three hectares of vineyard, has allowed the clay soils of Waiheke to get under his skin.
“To me, vines are like women. They’re beautiful; they bear fruit, and you should keep telling them how wonderful they are,” he says.
It’s believed that climate change is affecting Waiheke’s wine industry, with records from the past 30 years showing it’s getting warmer – which is ideal for grapes.
Waiheke’s Stonyridge Vineyard Business Manager, David Jackson says: “Some summers, we can have in excess of 18 days over 30 degrees Celsius in the vineyard enabling us to get these varieties beautifully ripe and therefore, create wines of great power and intensity.”
Former broadcaster-turned-wine writer, John Hawkesby, who also has 900 vines on his Waiheke Church Bay property, said: “We’re coming off a number of years of astonishing vintages. Waiheke is somewhere that people are really taking note of. Part of the reason is the high quality.
“It’s come about because a lot of the more established vineyards have vines with a level of maturity now and a number of owners have worked out what does best on the island.”
Waiheke boasts not only amazing vineyards and wineries but also homes, desired craft breweries and a single distillery, which makes one of the world’s best gins.
The wine-lovers paradise recently came fifth in the best places to travel in the World by The Lonely Planet travel book, and also topped the likes of the Maldives and St. Lucia in Conde Nast Traveler’s Magazine Best Islands in the World list.
The island has been a hit with celebrities from all over the world, who’ve headed to its shores for a mini-break while in Auckland City for concerts and shows.
Taylor Swift famously shared snaps of her running through Waiheke’s vineyards with her millions of fans on social media.
View: Photos from Waiheke Island, Auckland