New Zealand: Waiheke Island Day Trip

Waiheke Island is a stunning place. It’s pretty cool to just say “I have been to Waiheke Island”.


Getting To Waiheke Island From Auckland

Waiheke Island is only 10 miles or so from the heart of Auckland. I would say visiting here should definitely be on the “must-do” list if you are visiting Auckland.

Getting to Waiheke Island is a 40-minute boat ride from the Auckland Harbour. It is operated by Fuller Tours. We opted to do their Island Explorer bus tour that cost $50NZD and that includes ferry tickets, and an all-day bus pass. They also offer a wine tasting tour (which appears to be what Waiheke Island exports a lot of!). If you are on a budget, you could walk it, but I wouldn’t recommend it as it is pretty hot and hilly!

Island Explorer Bus Tour

Now, you are probably going to wonder about the picture you are about to see…  This is Glenn our driver and tour guide for the day. If you are like me, before you book a tour, you might go on Trip Advisor. Do an FBI  investigation before booking. You might even do what I do, and jump right into the negative reviews! There could be 100 good reviews, but I’ll focus on the 2 bad ones! To quote one poor review referencing Glenn (mainly due to his humour):

So if you decide to go on this tour, maybe ring up in advance and ask who the tour guide is for each session, and choose one of the other ones!

Well, guess what, we got Glenn! Now, the plot twist here is that he was hilarious. I would say his humour was very British in terms of it being rather dry and sharp. For example, at the start, he would go round the coach which held maybe 16 people and ask them their names and where they are from. It was like being in the front row of a comedy show! For myself it went a bit like this:

G: “Where are your from”

Me: “Scotland”

G: “Did you pay for the ticket or did you get it free?” – ZINGER!

(The joke is that the scottish reputation is to be cheap-skates!)

The tour went round the Island taking us through the small villages, through some vineyards, and along the coast. Glenn stopped at some photogenic points to take pictures and walk about.


Food Recommendation

We hopped off the bus in the village of Oneroa (which is just before the ferry terminal) to get some lunch. We walked down the main road and the restaurants were fairly pricey if you just want a relaxing lunch. However, we spotted an awesome fish and burger place down some stairs called The Local. I think it is safe to say you could call this the ‘million dollar view’. We then popped to the Island Galato Co for some ice cream!

Emirates Options Voucher – My free flight to the other side of the world and back!

As an Accountant and self-confessed thrifty person, I hit the jackpot with this one: A free return ticket back to Australia! This is a story of highs (free ticket!) and some lows (thinking I was caught up in some sort of terrorist plot!)

What is an Emirates Options Voucher?

Emirates_Options_Voucher_TicketAn Emirates Option Voucher is a complimentary ticket that the airline uses for compensating passengers who are either voluntarily or involuntarily denied boarding to the plane (for reasons outwith their control). The voucher, which has a validity period of one year, gives the person a free return flight to a destination of similar mileage from the airport they were denied boarding.  I think the business reason behind this system is to overbook seats to ensure a a full plane, and hope that a few people can’t make the flight so they don’t have to use the voucher system. If this fails and every passenger booked on the flight checks in, they have the compensation option up their sleeves to avoid a possible lawsuit!

How Did I Get Denied Boarding?

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Historical Aircraft Restoration Society Museum- Australia

Location: Albion Park Cost: $20 AUSD (£10 /$15) Length: 1.5 Hrs More Details: Click Here

I think the below picture of me standing in front of a retired Boeing 747 probably falls under the ‘geeky’ post section of this blog. Count yourself lucky that you were not my friend, who got dragged on a two hour train journey to the museum, a two hour tour (which he just waited in the reception), and then a further two hour train journey back!!!

It’s my thing, ok. I try to make it to at least one transporty thing when I am abroad.


HARS caught my attention through a great travel podcast I have been listening to called Layovers. They discussed that Quantas had donated it’s first ever Boeing 747 that was delivered direct to the company to the HARS museum. I couldn’t turn down the chance to get a tour of a Boeing 747.

HARS is based at the Illawara Regional Airport, and is easily accessible from Sydney by a two hour train journey from Sydney Central Station to Albion Park train station. The train journey was great; a mixture of stunning forests to scenic beach views.


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Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb – Is it Worth It?


Location: Sydney Harbour Cost: $363 AUSD (£185 /$260) Length: 2.5 Hrs More Details: Click Here

If you are going to visit Sydney, or even Australia in general, one of the most iconic landmarks that you will want to see is the Sydney Harbour Bridge. There is then the temptation to climb the frickin’ thing!

On Australian tourist information sites, the Bridge Climb is often recommended as a ‘must do’, both for spectacular views over Sydney Harbour and Circular Quay, and for the experience of climbing the tallest steel arch bridge in the world . However, they often fail to mention that the climb is done in a jumpsuit with only your underwear on underneath!!


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Sailing Sydney Harbour – America’s Cup Sailing Experience

SAILING SYDNEY HARBOUR Experience Americas Cup Yacht

Location: Darling / Sydney Harbour Cost: $129 AUSD (£65 /$93) Length: 2.5 Hrs More Details: Click Here

Sailing Sydney Harbour in Australia in a 75ft former Americas Cup Racing yacht was a standout highlight of my trip to Sydney – even more so than climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge!

The route of the sail is dependent on weather but will nearly always take you around the Sydney Harbour area, up to Manly and back to Wharf 9 in Darlington Harbour. This included sailing under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, past the Opera House, and alongside the massive cruise ships that enter the harbour.

Don’t worry if you have no prior sailing experience. The crew will get you involved in ‘grinding’, and will guide you in helming the boat. They also got involved in taking pictures and videos (see below with the Skipper using my GoPro for a video and a ‘selfie’!)

Sun cream and cold drinks are provided throughout the trip, so you are always protected and hydrated in the strong Aussie sun. There is also a nice breeze when sailing, so despite the warm weather, it was a comfortable sail. The pro’s are quick to force you down some water and top up on suncream as it is easy to forget about the blaring sun with the nice cool breeze of the sail.

When I first booked the trip I thought it was fairly pricey, but on reflection, it was worth every penny. I would highly recommend this to anyone going on a trip to Sydney, it was phenomenal.


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