Waiheke Island, just a 35 minute ferry ride from mainland Auckland, offers an array of overgrown forest, curving beaches and rolling hills. The island caters to tourists with a range of paid activities, but the best way to experience the island may well be by exploring on foot.
For $38 return, you can book a ferry and make day trip of it, with no additional expenses.
Arriving on the island, you quickly escape from buildings to find yourself choosing from a selection of tracks, which branch off their separate ways through native greenery. Many of the paths link up with roads again; often there is sufficient space alongside to follow them for a while, and in any case there is never too much traffic - particularly in the off-season. The island has a population of under 8,000.
It's hard to know whether to stick to the coast or to go inland - but whichever path you choose, you're bound to be rewarded.
Inland, you find yourself in wine country.
Some of the vineyards, discoverable inland just by roaming along the roads
Along the coast, you find beautiful beaches. In summer many of these would be appropriate for swimming; in winter the view alone is fantastic.
The erratic shape of the island means it has a lot of harbours and inlets. Therefore, the water is calm and generally quite clear, so it catches the sun light gracefully, filling it with playful ripples.
The harbours are often enclosed by tree-covered hills, with a thin strip of beach at the bottom of them - sometimes sandy, other times covered with smashed fragments of shells and small stones.
Boats in various stages of disrepair moored in a township's bay