Waiheke's sculpture trail is but a starting point for a day of admiring glorious views.
You may have explored Waiheke Island's Sculpture on the Gulf walkway, following the trail of artworks from Matiatia along the headland every second year. But that track is just a taster for other walks which go further into Church Bay and Park Point on this western part of the island.
Even better, you can tailor a walk to your level of fitness and available time. Along the way are three vineyards, all offering tastings and two with wine bars and restaurants. Allow plenty of time; you can easily walk for four hours or more on this network of walking tracks.
Before you leave home, print out a map so you don't lose your bearings. Staff at Mudbrick say they often get hungry, thirsty customers who have walked for longer than they had intended after taking a wrong turn.
Coming off the Fullers ferry at Matiatia, head along the foreshore past the car park and the kayak-hire shed, crossing the footbridge to wind up the hill to the lookout on Nick Johnstone Drive. A sculpture of a wood pigeon honours Don Chapple, who spent years creating this Atawhai Whenua (kindness to the land) Reserve.
Continue along the coastal track to Te Miro Bay towards Te Whetumatarau Point, the same route you take for Sculpture on the Gulf.
The track requires reasonable fitness with some climbs, and good walking shoes are recommended. Bring water and an energy snack, or grab something to eat at the coffee bar on the wharf.
At the end of the sculpture walk at Te Miro Bay, where you can opt out and return to Matiatia by walking up Nick Johnston Drive and taking one of the Atawhai Whenua tracks, continue along the coast to Te Miro and Church bays, passing Motukaha Island and impressive homes. Dipping down on to the beach by Church Bay Farm, continue up the hill, passing the next turn-off option along Bull Paddock Track back to Church Bay Rd and the vineyards until you reach the sign to continue to Park Point.
Here, the scenery changes as you go into the bush. At Park Point you'll come out at Cable Bay Lane by No39. This is where it gets a little confusing (note to Auckland City: a sign here pointing walkers back to Walter Frank Drive would be helpful) but, by turning left and going through what looks like a gated entrance, you are heading back to Walter Frank Drive and Church Bay Rd. So, don't panic, you're not lost and are only a 20-minute or so walk from Church Bay's vineyards. You'll know you are on the right road when you walk through the gated entrance and see a fence about 70m on the right with the words Hei Matau.
But, time and energy levels permitting, follow the well-indicated sign to the walk from Park Point along the coast to Te Wharau Bay. The views of Kennedy Point and Auckland's eastern suburbs will have you feeling like you're miles from anyone or anywhere. Hopefully, you have packed your togs, as there are some lovely beaches.
This section of the walk is the most challenging, but the coastal and rustic views, the pohutukawa and the beaches are special. You won't regret it.
After an hour or so, you'll come to the sign directing you back to Walter Frank Rd. Turn right and follow the road as it becomes Church Bay Drive and within 30 minutes you'll arrive at the first of the area's three vineyards, Jurassic Ridge then Mudbrick and Cable Bay.
Wined and perhaps dined, the best way back to the ferry is to turn into Nick Johnstone Drive from Church Bay Rd and, about 100m past the Cable Bay entrance, is the sign to the southern entrance walkway through Atawhai Whenua Reserve to the ferry, taking about 15 to 20 minutes.
Jurassic Ridge, 144 Church Bay Rd, (09) 950 373, open seven days 11am to 4pm. $7 for the visit includes wine tasting and opportunity to view the vineyard and olive press and discuss the winemaking with Lance.
Mudbrick, 126 Church Bay Rd, (09) 372 9050, open approx 10.30am to 5pm daily. $10 standard tasting, $15 premium. Light meals available.
Cable Bay, 12 Nick Johnstone Drive, (09) 372 5889, tasting daily from 11am, wine bar open from noon. $8 standard tasting, $10 premium tasting, refunded when wine is purchased. Light meals available.