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Waiheke Island NZ: Day Trip or Destination?

Waiheke Island | Confused Julia

After our time in Auckland, we took the ferry over to Waiheke Island and stayed there for two nights. It was summer, it was a weekend and there was a organized fun day going on at the main beach in town, Onetangi. This meant that this small but perfectly formed island was slightly overrun. It also meant that shops. restaurants and buses were operating under different hours, making getting around and eating out quite difficult.

Looking back, although I loved the beach and atmosphere of Waiheke, I’ve often thought that perhaps it could have been enjoyed just as much on a long day trip from Auckland. So I thought I’d break down what there is to do on Waiheke and how to get there, so that you can decided for yourself whether you would rather stay there for a night or two or simply make a long daytrip out of it while using Auckland as your base.

Jeepers Creepers: A North Island Horror Story

The name of this establishment shall remain confidential to protect the *ahem* dignity of the owners or any previous guests, both living and dead *gulp*

“Scott, there’s a big pink stain on the floor…..”
“It’s ok” he replied, “It’s too light to be blood.”
Not the most comforting conversation to be having when you’ve just checked into your hotel room in one of the only hotels in the town. We had planned to spend one night in a small town on the North Island on our way back to Auckland from Welllington. The town itself was quaint and charming. If only we could say the same about our hotel.

As soon as we checked in and saw that we were the only people staying there that night, we knew that the place probably wasn’t your regular all-singing-all-dancing thoroughfare hotel. But as we walked along the deserted corridor to our room and peered into some of the other rooms whose doors were lying open, we started to become slightly anxious. Threadbare mattresses and cobwebbed sinks greeted us from every doorway.

King of the Hill on Lantau Island

I was excited by the prospect of many things in Hong Kong. The food, the Star Ferry, the nightly light show, Victoria Peak and of course Ocean Park.

But top of my list for as long as I can remember has been the big seated Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island.

I can pinpoint the first time I became enthralled by the thought of going to visit this attraction. I was writing a Hong Kong destination guide in a job from hell and was asking my colleagues if any of them had ever visited the city in order to collect as much information as I possibly could. One of my colleagues told me he had taken a day trip out to Lantau Island and climbed many steps in order to reach (what was then) the largest seated bronze Buddha in the world. This sparked my interest – I have always been fascinated (I refuse to use the word “obsessed” again as it has come up several times in my last couple of posts and I’m beginning to even worry myself) with the Buddhist culture and have even collected Buddha figurines from my trips to Asia.

The Eerily Beautiful Lake Patzcuaro

lake patzcuaro

Sometimes I have to admit when I’m wrong. This was one of these cases.

There isn’t much to do in Patzcuaro, just a few hours west of Mexico City. As we were staying there to dog-sit, it didn’t matter to us much. There are a couple of quaint plazas filled with streetside cafes and a bustling market selling every type of fruit and vegetable you could imagine.

But the only real tourist attraction of the town is the nearby lake.

You can jump on a boat with several other tourists and local indigenous people (who are the only people to inhabit the island) and hop on over to the island, known as Isla Janitzio, which has its own version of Christ the Redeemer; a large stone figure of a man with his fist in the air, said to represent Mexico’s independence.

lake patzcuaro
isla janitzio lake patzcuaro
I didn’t really want to go to the island. I didn’t imagine that there would be much to see or do.

And there isn’t, of that I was correct. There are lots of steep winding stairs and hills to the peak of the island, where you can pay a fee to climb to the fist of the statue. We did this, and although the murals on the inside walls depicting the timeline of the country’s independence were interesting, the view from the top wasn’t that extraordinary compared to what I had already seen and there was actually hardly any room at the top in which actual size humans could comfortably fit.