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Waiheke Island

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Waiheke Island

Statue marking the start of dotterel nesting sites, courtesy Waiheke Eco Lodge

Statue: dotterel nesting site
Top of Onetangi reserve
Photos courtesy: Waiheke Eco Lodge

Waiheke Island, like Tiritiri Matangi, is another island very accessible from downtown Auckland. It lies in the Hauraki Gulf, 17.7 km, about 35 minutes by ferry, from Auckland.

Of the Hauraki Gulf islands, it is the second-largest, after Great Barrier Island. It is 26 km long and 19 km across at its widest point, with rolling hills that reach 230 metres at the highest point. However, it is the most populated of the islands and the most accessible by regular ferry and air services. It is a unique island settlement close to Auckland with a resident population of about 7,000 spread out around the numerous bays and beaches mainly grouped at the western end.

Its name translated from the Maori means cascading waters which refers to the waterfalls now within the Whakanewha Regional Park.

The climate is generally warmer than Auckland with less humidity and rain and more sunshine hours.

The island's Maori history follows the usual pattern of one tribe conquering and ousting another such that in the 1820's after frequent raids by Hongi Heke and his warriors there were probably not many inhabitants.

Although some farming was done on the island, by the early 20th century it had already become a resort island.

During World War II the army built huge concrete gun emplacements and dug mole-like mazes of tunnels at the eastern end on the hill "Stony Batter". Open to the public they offer both an insight to the extent of defence preparations and wonderful views of the southern end of the Hauraki Gulf.

(page last updated  16 July 2007)