Ever wondered what it takes to launch a new passenger ferry service? We sit down with our founders, David and Tanya Todd - Waiheke locals for the last 15 years - about what inspired the Island Direct ferry, what they love so much about Waiheke Island, and who’s behind this family-owned and operated ferry service making waves in the Hauraki Gulf.
Who’s behind Island Direct?
Island Direct is a partnership between two families, ourselves and the Bourkes of Hauraki Express. We bring the brand, marketing and product to the business, and the Hauraki Express team gives us generations of operating on the Hauraki Gulf. Our adult children are deeply involved in the day-to-day running of the business too, and we’ve built a dedicated crew of skippers, deckhands and hosts to oversee our 18 daily crossings.
What motivated you to start the business?
The motivation for Island Direct was simple - seeing an opportunity to provide a friendly, reliable service to better serve the community we love. We may be a small provider, but we’re proud to offer something different - from our bookable service, to serving food and beverage from some of New Zealand’s most-loved brands.
What is it that drew you to Waiheke Island originally?
The full-time move to Waiheke was an easy decision for us - we love the island lifestyle, it’s close to Auckland where our children and our grandchildren live, and offers such a diverse and unique community.
Best places to eat on Waiheke Island?
We’re spoiled for choice on Waiheke Island, with no shortage of incredible places to eat and drink. Some of our personal favourites are Poderi Crisci, Te Motu, the Oyster Inn, Passage Rock, Heke Brewery and the Batch - but that’s by no means an exhaustive list!
Waiheke’s best hidden gems?
Its people. Waihesians are warm and welcoming people, and the island’s strong sense of community was one of the many factors which drove us here initially. It’s also an incredibly proud island, with a shared sense of commitment for looking after this beautiful place and helping it thrive.