I was sitting by the beach at Mawhitipana Bay when I saw a boat appear from around the point. It was a type of speed boat with two people aboard. As I watched, the boat got closer and closer to the shore and I thought that it may beach itself. Instead, it gave a little jerk and began to rise out of the water, and was literally driven up onto the beach by the wheels which seemed to appear from out of its hull. The boast was driven up onto the beach, then onto the road, and into the drive of a house which was just a few metres from the beach.
The two occupants, a woman and a man, plus their dog, got out of the boat and they unloaded their supplies into the house. “Now, that’s a great lifestyle,” I thought.
And a substantial island it is too, being about 28 kilometres in length from east to west. Waiheke has about 8,000 permanent residents, the great majority of whom live in the eastern third of the island, the end which faces Auckland city. The westerly two thirds of Waiheke are much more sparsely populated, and consist of some quite beautiful agricultural land, where sheep and grapes are raised.
Waiheke really expands its population on weekends and public holidays when there is almost an invasion of people escaping Auckland. The island has a huge number of holiday homes, which are generally empty during the week. People, even those who are permanent residents, flock to Waiheke for the lifestyle.
It is very laid back and has plenty of beaches, bays, wineries, walk tracks, scenic drives, boat ramps, restaurants and magnificent views from just about everywhere on the island.
Whilst the method of transport of the couple that I saw may not be typical, the occupancy of great waterside houses on weekends is.
We hired a typical beachside house and it was simply a brilliant place to rest up. There’s a local bus which can take you over most of the populated part of the island when you have the urge to get around, or you can hire a local car for a very reasonable rate and drive yourself.
If you want a really relaxing break but also require a chance for an occasional taste of big city life, then Waiheke Island is the perfect place to stay, provided you don’t run out of energy whilst you are relaxing around.