The island’s official name is Waiheke and it’s just a short ferry ride from Auckland, New Zealand. The climate is perfect for growing wine grapes. Not surprisingly, about 30 wineries are dotted around the idilic isle. There are also beautiful beaches, but let’s be honest, I went for the wine tasting and the food.
To make the most of the day, I got up early, skipped breakfast, and caught the 8:00 ferry.
The ferry chugged out of the harbor. A pleasant forty-five minute ride took us across Half Moon Bay to the landing at Wine Island. I had several choices for transportation around the island: a fancy tour bus, a hop-on-hop-off bus, or a bicycle. The bicycle sounded like fun until I noticed the island's hilly terrain. Then there was the problem of me cycling on narrow roads after several glasses of wine. Wisely, I chose the hop-on-hop-off bus.
First stop was the tiny village of Oneroa. I was hungry! Happily, several cute restaurants were right next to the bus stop. Two overlooked Oneroa Beach. I chose the one on top of the hill.
The next bus arrived 10 minutes after I finished breakfast. I hopped on and rode it to Onetangi Beach where I lingered until 11:00 when the wineries opened for business.
How to choose among 30 wineries? I decided on three whose descriptions sounded interesting and that were fairly close together on the bus route. I hopped off at the first winery, walked up the long gravel driveway, and was greeted by a sign that said it was closed that day. Disappointed but undeterred, I walked to the second winery.
Although I wasn’t quite hungry yet, Stonyridge’s lunch menu looked appealing. I took my three wine tasting pours to an outdoor table and ordered lunch. The day was warm, but the restaurant deck was shaded by an ivy-covered arbor. While waiting for my order I enjoyed chatting with the waiter, who had deep knowledge of wine, the wine-making process at the winery, and the terroir of Wine Island.
I lingered a while, enjoying the cool deck and view of the grape-growing valley. But another vineyard was close by and I was eager to try their wines too.
Although it was early afternoon, the day was becoming hot and humid, and I’d had my limit of wine. Three tasting-size pours at two wineries equalled about two normal-size glasses of wine. Let’s face it. I’m a cheap date. I was very glad I hadn’t opted for touring on a bicycle—the bus ride back to the ferry landing was many miles. It would have been challenging for me to manage the hilly terrain in the heat, even without a wine buzz.
I appreciated the breezy, cool ferry ride back to Auckland. I arrived in the harbor with enough time left in the day to visit Auckland Museum's Maori cultural exhibition. And that will be another post.