Discover Waiheke Island wheelchair accessible attractions, things to do, tours and activities for disabled travelers. Read our informative review to learn if Waiheke Island, the ferry and wineries are wheelchair accessible and wheelchair friendly or if Wheelchair Jimmy recommends this attraction be avoided by travelers in wheelchairs.
Waiheke Island is in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand, about 11.0 miles from Auckland.
It is the second-largest island in the gulf, after Great Barrier Island. It is the most populated, with nearly 8,730 permanent residents plus another estimated 3,400 who have second or holiday homes on the island. It is the most accessible island in the Gulf, with regular passenger and car ferry services, a Waiheke-based helicopter operator, and other air links. In November 2015, Waiheke Island received international attention when it was rated the fifth best destination in the world to visit in 2016 by Lonely Planet and also voted the fourth best island in the world in the Condé Nast Best Islands in the World List.
- City Attraction Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
- Fully Accessible Entry: Requires ferry boat
- Accessible Restrooms Onsite: Yes on Waiheke Island
- Restrictive Steps: Many hills on Waiheke
Jim’s Accessibility Comments:
We had a wonderful day traveling to Waiheke Island but it has some accessibility challenges. First, it’s a beautiful island with rolling hills, beautiful beaches and wineries. That’s reason enough to visit. Touring the island requires a car and driving several miles (I did not see any accessible buses). The main town is along a reasonably steep hill and includes many retail shops although they primarily cater to local community basic needs and not tourism.
So we decided not to shop in town, took a detour and made our 1st stop at Charlie Farleys Beachside Restaurant and Bar on beautiful Onetangi beach. Charlie Farleys is what I’d call a small casual café and bar with an outdoor patio overlooking a beautiful remote beach cove. It’s generally wheelchair accessible (a 3 on the WJAR Index). The beach cove itself was down multiple steps and was not accessible, at least if you park near the restaurant. Charlie Farleys was very wheelchair friendly (see my restaurant review).
Waiheke Island Ferry: You will enjoy the 35 minute ferry ride from Auckland’s Half Moon Bay (which is about 15 minutes south of Auckland by car) to picturesque Waiheke. We took the Sea Link ferry which is car and passenger accessible but it’s expensive. There are multiple steps to the ferry’s upper deck where they serve food and where the restroom is located. The ferry car deck is very cramped with cars; so it’s easier to drive on and sit in your car during the short 35 minute trip. No wheelchair accessible restroom on the ferry’s main deck.
Mudbrick Vineyard and Restaurant: Our 2nd stop was at the Mudbrick Vineyard and Restaurant which is an absolutely beautiful winery and restaurant with spectacular views of the bays below. The problem here was the very, very difficult accessibility. All winery guests had to park in the dirt lot down below the property, and then we had to roll up a very, very steep dirt and rocky path to the winery. But once into the winery, much of the interior is very level and accessible. We had a great time, met some new special friends from England, and enjoyed the fabulous views of the beach coves and vineyards over lunch and wine. They do have a wheelchair accessible restroom. (By the way, it is not possible to drive up to the winery). We had a great time enjoying various wines and a snack plate on the outdoor patio with fabulous island and water views.
Although we had another glorious day in paradise, and I encourage you to visit and experience the island’s beauty, most of the island was not that wheelchair friendly.