Waiheke Island, Auckland
Waiheke Island Is the Perfect Day Trip From Auckland. Lots of Wine!
I spent my last day in Auckland on a wine tasting adventure to Waiheke Island. The island is 17km from central Auckland and is a haven for some of New Zealand’s best wines, especially their Syrah. With a unique soil structure, slightly warmer climate and less rain than Auckland, Waiheke Island has become an ideal grape growing destination.
After a 35-minute ferry ride from Auckland, I boarded the Waiheke Island Hop On Hop Off Bus that drops you off at all the best wineries. As I was one of only six people on the island taking this bus, I had the drivers at my disposal. Shi and Mal were kind enough to give me a personal tour of Waiheke Island.
***Unfortunately, a few wineries that I visited have now closed, so my Waiheke guide is a lot shorter. However, the three places below I highly recommend! ***
WHERE TO GO ON WAIHEKE ISLAND
Shi, a quirky young man, picked me up at 12.15pm from Te Whau Vineyard (Closed as of 2018) and recommended that I eat lunch before my afternoon tastings. He drove me to Onetangi Beach where I sat on the patio of Charlie Farley’s Waiheke and devoured a roast beef sandwich. Fully nourished and relaxed from the calming sound of the waves, I was handed off to Mal who showed me the East Side of Waiheke Island.
PASSAGE ROCK WINERY WAIHEKE
Mal, a talkative, outgoing and kind Maori was nice enough to take me to the best lookout spots on the Island. I saw men fishing from wharfs, couples playing golf and even sheep trying to make their way down the steep hillsides. Although the views were amazing I began to get thirsty, so Mal took me to Passage Rock Winery.
Tourists were enjoying their wines on the patio and dogs were playing in the driveway. I enjoyed four wines, two of which, their Viognier and 2008 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon were my favorites. The aromatic floral notes of the Viognier compared to the robustness of the Cabernet Sauvignon were a nice contrast.
WILD ON WAIHEKE
As most wineries close at 4 pm, I could only make one more stop and that was to Wild on Waiheke. It was more like a fun zone than drinking place. Up the pebble driveway, I noticed children playing on the jungle gym and a young couple playing chess with human size pieces. The best vision though was the archery they had set up between the row of grapes. I guess they encourage drinking and throwing sharp objects at the same time! I decided to pass on the fun and headed inside to taste the preserves, jellies, and sauces laid on the table. From white chocolate to a coriander and curry dipping sauce I tried every item more than once. I wanted to enjoy a glass of white wine outside, but they were closing. I decided to catch the 4.45pm ferry back to Auckland.
I enjoyed my time on Waiheke Island. I sipped on fantastic wines, enjoyed a simple but flavorful sandwich at the beach and got an unexpected private tour of the island. The only mistake I did was not staying longer. Next time I will stay for a few days and try my hand at archery.