Got up early to catch the ferry to Waiheke Island for Fuller’s (a tour agency) Wine on Waiheke tour—a 35-minute ferry ride followed by a 4+ hour tour. Because we were going wine-tasting, I dressed as I would have at home in Sonoma Valley—nice outfit and dress sandals, with matching jewelry. The shoes turned out to be one of the poorer decisions I’d made to date (second only, perhaps, to having to buy a pair of jeans in Auckland because I’d not anticipated the need for long pants). The weather was iffy, and the terrain around the wineries hilly; it was the most difficult walking on the trip so far!
The first stop, at Stonyridge, was fine. We were greeted at the bus with glasses of white wine (very nice), and walked through a small olive grove to see different areas of the vineyard. Then we were ushered into a dining area/tasting room for a lovely lunch of two different kinds of frittata (one chicken and feta, the other spinach and mushrooms) and salad. The wines were very nice though, to us, not exceptional.
Our second stop was at the award-winning Rangihoua Estates for some olive tasting. We saw the processing operation and tasted their various blends of olive oil–the flavors were as distinctive as wine varieties. Especially good was their Herb Spread, made of traditional and wild herbs in olive oil—we so enjoyed it that we bought a jar to share with our friends in Sydney.
The next stop was at Wild on Waiheke, which offers beer tasting as well as wine. We also got to sample locally produced food, olive oils, and preserves. Additionally, this “winery” offers adult entertainment in the form of an archery range (between rows of vines) and “skeet” shooting with laser guns; there are also a restaurant and a children’s playground. It would have nice to be able to spend more time there…this could be our “something left undone” for Auckland (something left undone is our code for having a reason to return to a location we have enjoyed.
The tour concluded with tastings at the Mudbrick Vineyard while enjoying stunning views of the Hauraki Gulf. (This consisted of a considerable uphill climb, through two types of vines (a merlot and a shiraz), with tastings of each. Comment to readers: be sure to wear comfortable shoes when doing the Wine on Waiheke tour, not cute sandals like I had chosen!
Upon returning to the mainland, we took the bus back to the Sky Tower and decided to have dinner there. Our first choice, the Seafood Depot, was crowded and noisy so we decided to go to The Federal, a “New York-style deli” that I’d heard about. It was OK, but nothing that I would write a TripAdvisor review over.
The next day was a totally non-tourist day, beginning with rain that kept us all morning. We walked downtown to have lunch (at the Vulcan Pub), then I went off to get a mani-pedi while Bob picked up the camera battery we had ordered. The pedi was a good experience, the mani not-so-much—in fact, due to manucurist error I walked out without polish on my nails…don’t ask! A stop for a mocha frappuccino at Starbuck’s helped me get over that.
From there we took the “red” InterLink bus to Seafood Central for more fabulous deli goodies, walked back to town, bought some nail polish at the Downtown Shopping Center, and took the “green” bus back “home.”