An easy 30-minute ferry ride away from Auckland, there lies a magical island called Waiheke. On this fantastic island lie beautiful ocean views from the top of rolling hills, and vineyards as far as the eye can see! This is a place where you can sip wine at one vineyard for an hour, then get up and walk to the next one, and the next one, for even more tipsy tastings.
I may have exaggerated the ease of walking between ALL of the vineyards on the island, but there is a very convenient and simple bus system to transport you between them. However, they do tend to lie in groups which allow you to travel between them by foot. And to top it all off, many of them offer views of Auckland over the water, in the distance.
Needless to say, we grabbed some coffee in the city before heading out for a day of sunshine and Sauvignon! I got a latte topped with an adorable New Zealand fern.
Already, just offshore, the ferry was offering an incredible view of the Auckland skyline.
We had purchased a very reasonable “all day bus pass” for the island, which meant we could hop on the bus right at the ferry terminal and enjoy the ride between as many wineries as we pleased for the day! We started off at Stonyridge Vineyard, and enjoyed some Sauvignon Blanc (my favorite!) under the shade trees. Mostly all of the white wines in New Zealand are grown on the South Island (heard of Marlborough!?), and Waiheke grows mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, sometimes blending Cabernet and Merlot.
We could have sat in the shade and taken in the green hills and blue sky for hours, but it was time to move on! The ~10 minute walk, winding through neighboring grapevines led us to the next stop- Te Motu.
We sat for a long while, enjoying a very educational tasting! They provided two of the same wine varieties, one from a “wet” year and one from a “dry” year so that we could taste the influence of yearly climate on the wine! They also had us try several wines of the same variety, from years ranging from 2004-2009 so that we could taste the influence of aging the wine. Very cool!
Unfortunately, we had gotten a late start on that first day, so we had to leave and come back again! On the second day, we started out at Mudbrick Winery (my favorite of the bunch, based on the wines we sampled and the layout of the vineyard). Mudbrick has won many distinguished awards, and is considered one of the top vineyards to visit in the world! Unfortunately, my camera’s battery didn’t make it on this trip, so excuse the iPhone photos!
Notice the view of the Auckland skyline in the top left corner (much easier to see in person!):
The next vineyard down the road was Cable Bay, which had gorgeous views of the water and fantastic food!
After eating our fill, we headed out to a picnic table overlooking some amazing hills to wait for the bus to take us back to the ferry.
After days of just looking out at these amazing green hillsides, I couldn’t resist jumping the fence and having a run around before the bus came! It felt so good to just let go of worrisome thoughts and fly down that hill! I couldn’t wait for all the Kiwi adventures that still awaited us!