Auckland: A Full Day on Waiheke Island
We spent pretty much a full day on Waiheke Island today. It deserved at least that much time, and probably much more.
The ferry to Waiheke from Auckland took, if memory serves, a little more than 40 minutes, but there was a stop on the way. The return trip was nonstop and took just over 30 minutes.
The island contains a few quaint towns and villages. I believe the vineyards and vintners outnumber the towns and villages. And the spectacular views and nice walking tracks probably outnumber the vineyards and vintners.
A hop-on, hop-off bus stops at many of the major attractions on the island. We bought tickets for that.
I won’t describe every walk we took on the island, except to say they were great. But below are some of the highlights of the day.
The fist stop we disembarked at was a small beach village with a long beach. We walked along the road beside the beach and returned for espressos before catching the next bus.
Oh, yeah. Espressos. If you’ve been reading along you might remember a journal entry in which I said Kiwis (people, not birds) call espressos “short blacks.” That seems to be true only until I get used to calling them short blacks. Then they call them espressos and refuse to understand when I ask for a short black. Then, when I start calling them espressos again, they insist on calling them short blacks. I’m sure it’s a conspiracy to confuse me. And all of the Kiwis are in on it. Maybe not.
Olive Oil Tasting on Waiheke Island
There’s an estate on Waiheke Island, Rangihoua Estate, that grows olives and produces olive oils. Who knew? Probably a lot of people, but, before today, not me.
That was the next stop where we got off the bus.
Rangihoua Estate offers tastings of four olive oils. The tasting formalities weren’t as refined as the olive oil tasting I did on a trip to Spain. However, I can’t complain because the oils at Rangihoua Estate were very flavourful; the person who served them to us did a good job of explaining the intricate flavours; and the tasting was free.
With all of those wineries on the island, how can you go and not do a wine tasting at at least one of them? You can’t. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)
We chose the winery to visit largely based on the time we got to the stop. We had a big breakfast, but no lunch. So we decided to do a wine tasting mid-afternoon and get a snack with it.
That timing put us at Goldie Estate, which, it turns out, is Waiheke’s oldest winery. Serendipitous though it may have been, it was a great choice.
The fairly low-cost tasting bought us samples of four wines: one white, one rosé, and two reds. They were all very good. (I usually shun rosés, but I enjoyed that one.)
And the friendly person who delivered the tastings provided a good commentary on the wines. (Well, that was a bit misleading, wasn’t it? No, there weren’t two people, a friendly one and an unfriendly one. There was only the friendly one.)
We also ordered a cheese plate that came with three local cheeses, crackers, melba toast, grapes and dried apricots. They were also very tasty.
We did our tastings on a table on a patio by the vineyards. In front of us, a path between two sections of the vineyard led up a hill. At the top was a single, very attractive tree.
When we got to our last glass, the tasting hostess suggested we could take our glasses up the hill and drink the last wine while taking in the view from up there. We didn’t do that, but we did head up the hill after we finished. I cannot begin to express how happy I am that we did.
The view from up there of a blue bay, with white, anchored sailboats bobbing in it, and beautiful hills surrounding it was beyond stunning. I think I could live on top of that hill for the rest of my life and never tire of the view. Although, the owners of Goldie Estate might have something to say about that.
(Before you ask, no, Goldie Estate didn’t pay me anything or offer me any freebies to write the above praise. (Nor did either of the other establishments mentioned above and below). However, if they read this and they’d like to pay for me to return, I wouldn’t say no.)
The last place we got off the bus was Mudbrick Vineyard and Restaurant. No, we didn’t do a tasting there.
Instead, we wandered around and checked out the vineyard’s restaurant. It looked great, so we made a reservation for later.
It was still more than an hour before the restaurant opened so we spent some time wandering around the area. The views there were gorgeous. There seems to be a lot of that on Waiheke Island.
But, enough about the views and our wandering. Dinner was delicious. We had a three-course meal comprised of entrées, main courses, and desserts. All three were fabulous.
Being a winery, the menu suggested wine pairings for each selection for each course. How could we say no? I suppose we could have said no by simply forming that word in our vocal cords, but we didn’t. Three courses, three wines. They were also all great.
In addition to the terrific food and wine, the scenery out the restaurant window was beautiful. The service at the restaurant was impeccable. In summary, it was a terrific experience.
After dinner we took an enjoyable stroll back to the ferry because the hop-on, hop-off bus service stopped by then and we had picked a winery/restaurant not too far from the ferry.
End of Day, Back from Waiheke Island
I’m typing this back in my hotel room in Auckland. It was an activity-filled day. I drank a lot of wine. And it’s now getting late. What I’m trying to say is if the prose in this journal entry comes anywhere within three light-years of comprehendible I’ll be very proud of myself. And if fewer than 50 percent of the sentences contain typos I probably deserve some sort of literary award for drunkards.
Get me there. Now.