Waiheke Island, NZ
A half hour ferry ride from Auckland is Waiheke Island. The natural beauty of the island has made it popular place to live and escape the pace of Auckland. The commute to work in Auckland for islanders is certainly pretty stress free as they cruise across the harbour.
The climate is also ideal for grapes and many wineries have set up there, tours are available from a variety of companies.
I rented an awesome yellow scooter for the day and explored the island on 2 wheels, it was NZ$ 49 for the day and was well worth the money (Fun rentals were the cheapest on the Island).
The ferry is around NZ$ 30 or 40 return and you can use the return ticket the next day or whenever you like. I stayed at a place called the Bio Shelter on Pacific Parade (NZ$ 25), which was alright, the owner Ivan was a massive hippy and the whole place was geared around being environmentally friendly. Someone has to save the planet but I thought the dry flush toilet (read cess pit in the bathroom) was a step too far perhaps. Bizarrely it didn’t smell though, perhaps that’s because people aren’t too keen on poking their bums down there in the first place. Anyway, it is pretty impressive what he’s done there and he grows all his own food and stuff - no doubt helped along by his customers… the supermarket is about a 15 minute walk.
For more info on visiting the island this site is pretty good.