February 18, 2015

Wanderlust Wednesday - Waiheke Island


Back for the second installment of Wanderlust Wednesday! You can check out my first post here.

We arrived in New Zealand on a Friday, so my friend we were staying with was finishing up her work week.  I knew as I was planning our itinerary that we would need to find something to do that would keep us entertained and awake as possible to stave off jet lag. 

(Speaking of jets, we flew on Air New Zealand and it was pretty awesome.  We didn't upgrade at all, so we were just in coach, but the seats were great, the in-flight entertainment was fantastic, and you could order your drinks and warmed-up chocolate chip cookies via your touch screen.  Definitely made the 12 hour flight bearable.  I also played around with different strategies in getting the best deal on the flight prices - I ended up saving several hundred dollars by booking my domestic flights as one round trip and the international flights as a separate trip.  I also used the "home country" website to book our flights and found there was a noticeable difference in price.   It does count as a foreign transaction though, so if you go this route, definitely use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees.)

We walked from our friend's apartment to the ferry terminal and took the ferry from Auckland City to Waiheke Island.  The ferry was nice - a large top deck where you could see all of the surrounding islands around Auckland, and there were plenty of tables and chairs where you could sit and enjoy a snack on your journey.

Islands surrounding Auckland

At the ferry terminal, you could buy a ticket for the island bus that ended up stopping near a lot of wineries, so we didn't need to worry about a ride around the island.  The bus on the island is timed to leave soon after the ferry arrives, but we didn't quite grasp that concept and missed the first bus.  We walked around the ferry terminal a bit to kill some time, but hopped on the next bus as soon as possible.

Beer tasting at Wild on Waiheke

Our first stop was at Wild on Waiheke, a fun winery that also brewed beer (so definitely my kind of place).  You could do all sorts of fun activities there, like archery and giant chess, but we were just there for the booze.  The weather was nice - sunny, but not too hot (as this was May, right in the middle of autumn in the Southern Hemisphere), and it was just nice to sit in the sun with a glass of wine.

Wine flight at Stonyridge

After Wild on Waiheke, we hopped next door to Stonyridge Vineyards.  This winery was a bit more upscale.  We ended up sharing a flight of wine and an olive and bread plate - the olives were grown right at the winery as well.  A one stop shop!  We were able to sit out on their awesome deck and got to take in some great views of the vineyard.  They had this fun frame looking out over the grape vines that really lent itself to some fun pictures.
 
Pretending I'm not jet lagged

He is obviously not jet lagged...

New Zealand is typically associated with Sauvignon Blanc, and we tasted a lot of these when we were on the South Island, but Stonyridge was known for their red wine.  Being from Upstate New York, I've frequented the Finger Lakes for numerous wine tours where Riesling is far more common, so it was nice to expose my palette to some new flavors.  I definitely have a spot for Sauvignon Blanc on my wine rotation now because it tastes like New Zealand.
 
Waiheke Beach

After the wine tasting and snacks at Wild on Waiheke and Stonyridge, we hopped on the bus and got off at the beach for a little stroll.  It was getting a little overcast out, but we luckily did not get hit with any rain.  This beach was nice to walk along, and we had fun picking out our favorite beach houses that looked out over the water.
 
Up and up..
 
There was one more winery we wanted to go to and we decided to walk to our next stop, which did require an envigorating jaunt up these steps.  The view we were rewarded with though was pretty nice...


Overlooking Waiheke Beach

The last stop we had on Waiheke Island was Casita Miro, a lovely little restaurant where I had enjoyed a glass of wine and Jason had a flight of wine.  We didn't really eat a full lunch this day as we wanted to sample a little bit of everything at each of our stops.
 
The Casita Miro vineyard
 
The wine, of course, was delicious, but the little restaurant was adorable too.  They specialize in Spanish/Mediterranean food, so we got a few tapas to share.  The decor inside was lovely and it was nice to sit down and relax after our first day's adventure.
 
Relaxing after a hard day's work

We walked back down to the beach and caught the next bus to bring us back to the ferry terminal.  We were a little tired at this point (being 16 hours ahead of your normal timezone will do that to you), but we ended up pulling through just fine, got dinner with our friend, and stayed up to a reasonable hour thanks to some more wine.  We did have to get up early the next morning, because despite being in New Zealand for less than 24 hours, we had a flight to catch to bring us from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South!

I did fully scrapbook our day at Waiheke Island, so you can check out the pages I created below:
Stop by next week for some pictures and stories from Queenstown - can't wait to share!

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