Dubbed one of the best islands in the world by international tastemaker Conde Nast Traveler, Waiheke wine tourers and commuters alike will be well serviced by Fullers’ announcement of half hour ferries across its summer timetable.
Signalling a step change for the tourism operator, the regular crossings across the Gulf respond to market demands for dependable and regular frequency as Waiheke prepares for its busiest season yet.
The comprehensive timetable for the Waiheke crossing sees services starting at Auckland from 5:35am and the last late night service departing Waiheke at 12:30am, with over 400 journeys in any week coming to and from the Island.
Passengers can now book trips online through the company’s new content-led website, which also unearths some of the Island’s most colourful characters and the many activities in the Gulf’s spectacular backyard.
The half-hour sailings and ticketing upgrades coincide with a revamped on-board menu showing a focus on New Zealand sourced goods including some of the Island’s most moreish artisan products.
Izania Downie, Fullers general manager sales and marketing, says that the changes are the result of a collaborative process with frequent travellers, who were each canvassed on their top priorities when making the Gulf crossing.
“We tested the menu and vetted our timetable options across a couple of months with the most important people in our business – the travellers.
“Reliability and a comprehensive timetable was seen as an absolute necessity over summer and the mix of food suppliers and options have been selected following many, many taste tests and a commitment to fresh products and natural ingredients,” says Izania.
Additions to the menu include locally produced Peacock Sky brownies, decadent Waiheke handcut fudges, Passage Rock pinot gris and reds and Te Whau Lodge’s toasted muesli – a breakfast option usually reserved for guests staying at the exclusive $495 per night retreat.
A picnic lunch option has also been developed for the island destinations – Tiritiri Matangi, Rotorua and Rangitoto – with sandwiches, gourmet meats, cheeses and fruits from foodie favourite Picnic Box.
En route home travellers can enjoy antipasto platters and Tuatara craft beer along with the broadened food and drinks list that includes gluten-free and vegan options aplenty. The menu will be constantly evolving as new local suppliers are revealed to the commuting crowds.
Jason Hill, ATEED Manager Tourism, says Auckland saw its busiest tourism summer in 2014 and that Waiheke remains one of the region’s top draw cards, with visitors spoilt for choice across its beautiful beaches, vineyards, festivals and many other attractions.
“Waiheke is one of the region’s must-visits, with travel to the Island expected to continue climbing as we prepare for another record-breaking Summer. We welcome the continued improvement and diversification of the Fullers offer,” he says.
Fullers, who boast more than 25 years of investment in maritime transport and operate as part of the InMotion group of transport assets, has placed a continued importance on customer satisfaction and evolution of its offer across the past six months.
Along with the half-hour timetable and menu revamp, it has most recently revealed a $19 million investment with two new ferry builds underway as well as launched a new logo and content-led website allowing online ticket purchase.