Waiheke Island has a special place in the hearts of Aucklanders—it is the perfect escape from the city and its incredible beauty is worth the hype. While the wineries and stunning scenery are all appreciated, what you might not have experienced is the annual Waiheke Walking Festival.
Running for the 11th time this year, the festival runs from Wednesday 11 to Sunday 29 November and has over 40 different events to get involved with. There are options for everyone, whatever your interests or abilities—including fitness adventures, night sky exploration and of course a few for the wine lovers.
The festival is all about showcasing Waiheke Island as the amazing walking destination that it is with each walk led by an expert. There are scenery focused walks, food and wine-focused walks, and more adventurous ones that will have you exploring parts of the island you won't have seen before. The festival is free to attend although some walks include add-ons that cost, but you must book the ones you fancy in advance as they tend to get booked out quickly.
To help you navigate the vast options throughout the festival, here are our five must-attend walks that you need to know about.
Night Sky Walk
Do you love space? If so this walk will be right up your alley. Join Astronz and Dark Sky Waiheke Island for an astronomical night time adventure where you will take a journey through space and time looking at the night sky and finish the walk with a mind-expanding peek through some state-of-the-art telescopic equipment.
Photography Walk with Peter Rees
If you're constantly snapping pics of beautiful places and want to learn a few tips and tricks then this is the walk for you. Led by the talented landscape photographer Peter Rees, you will be guided through the beautiful Whakanewha Park, learning how to develop your photographic skills further.
ECOPOD Earn Your Dinner Walk
One of the rare grade 10 walks on the festival itinerary, the earn your dinner walk is not for the faint of heart. However, expect to be richly rewarded for your efforts with a beautiful three-course meal at the award-winning Poderi Crisci Vineyard at the end, all while listening to some laid-back jazz. Book soon as this one is expected to sell out.
Progressive Lunch & Wine Trail Walk
Head over to Onetangi to partake in this progressive lunch and wine trail walk. Walk from the beach up to a wine tasting at Obsidian to start, tuck into a delicious main course lunch at Te Motu and dive into dessert at classy new joint Three Seven Two. An alcoholic beverage is served with each course and you get a stunning walk at the same time. Win win.
Shinrin-Yoku Forest Bathing Walk
Heard all the chatter about forest bathing but still not sure if it's your bag? Dip your toe in with this beautiful free forest bathing walk experience at Goodwin Reserve. You'll join accredited nature and forest therapy guide, Gabrielle Young who will encourage you to slow down, open your senses and connect with nature. After all that communing, the event will conclude with a Japanese tea ceremony. Blissful.
Finally, become a Friend of the Festival which gives you early access to bookings and allows you to book more walks, plus you will receive a free ticket to the finale. Friend of the Festival bookings are now open.
What: The Waiheke Walking Festival
When: Wednesday 11 to Sunday 29 November 2020
Where: The glorious island of Waiheke
Why not make a day of it and hit up one of these fine outdoor Waiheke pursuits at the same time?
Image credit: Mikey Mackinven