Just 35 minutes from Auckland by ferry is a world away. A sub-tropical micro-climate with hiking, biking, beaches, art, artists and that true island vibe. It is also the boutique winery capital of New Zealand. So when the open air sculpture park I wanted most to visit was closed for the season, I opted instead for a wine tour. Why not?
Waiheke Island may be a burgeoning wine region but nearly 80% of its wine is consumed right there on the island. So if you wish to partake, you gotta get yourself there. Hop a ferry (NZ $36 round trip) and join a scheduled tour for an informative and very pleasant day out.
My tour company of choice: Ananda Tours. The wineries my small group tour visited: Obsidian, Kennedy Point and Batch. Batch was my personal request accommodated without the blink of an eye. Sitting on the highest point on the island the views are spectacular. The winery’s coordinated approach to the architecture and label design — both of the modern variety are right up my alley. If you prefer a more old world feel, might I recommend Mudbrick, a popular wedding spot and top choice for lunch by my tour companions.
I on the other hand had dreamt about sitting on the beach eating pizza for my lunch at a little joint called Dragonfired Pizza — literally a tiny shack with a wood burning oven and that’s about it right on the beach — followed by a gelato at the Island Gelato Company before my ferry ride home. But as luck should have it a downpour started just as I was dropped off in town so no pizza on the beach for me. Instead i opted to take cover at the The Oyster Inn, a most charming little 3 room hotel and eatery you’d swear was transplanted straight from Nantucket. But no, it’s just the dream of two Brit ex-pats makin’ the most of island life.You might consider a stay on the island, if not at the Oyster Inn, then the uber luxury Boat Shed. Take in the beaches, the Connells Bay Sculpture Park, The Rooster Colony, a commune of sorts for all the islands roosters, and don’t miss the Toi Gallery for the beautiful sculptures by local artist Sally Smith. A day. A week. A month. A lifetime. Whatever floats your boat.