Waiheke Island is a paradise island situated around a 40 minute ferry ride from Auckland.
Due to its overly warm climate, Waiheke is renowned for its ability to grow some of New Zealand’s finest wines and consequently, is adorned in beautiful vibrant green vineyards.
Last Saturday, as I was blessed with a weekend off work, my friend and I decided to treat ourselves to a luxurious day of vineyard hopping and wine tasting on the island.
At around 11am we jumped on the ferry and headed towards the Hauraki Gulf.
As we approached Waiheke the dark navy water blended into a translucent reflective blue, luxury sailing boats bobbed in the tranquil harbour and bright green foliage sprouted from every corner of the island.
Once we’d piled off of the boat, we beelined for the first vineyard on our wine crawl. Located around a 20 minute walk from the port, Cable Bay is a modern vineyard and restaurant with both a tasting cellar and a wine library.
I’d heard great things about this wineries buzzing ambience, impressive view and of course, quality wine, so my expectations were high.
On arrival we headed straight towards the wine cellar to have a taste of Cable Bay’s staple wines.
For a bargain $10 (approx £5) we were able to try five flavoursome wines – a Sav, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah, as the friendly connoisseurs talked us through the different ‘notes’ in each one.
Once we’d enjoyed our tipples in the cellar, we moved onto the grass area in front of the vineyards’ veranda for a crisp glass of vino. With weaving grapevines and the hazy silhouette of the city as our backdrop, we were in heaven.
Despite the setting, wine and vibe of Cable Bay being perfect, the decor was a little modern for my liking (I’m a sucker for character) so we moved on in search of somewhere a little more rustic.
And boy did we find it…
A few minute walk down the road we stumbled upon Mudbrick vineyard. A quaint restaurant and vineyard resembling a French château, Mudbrick was rightttt up my street.
Embellished in a blanket of emerald-green leaves and boasting a picturesque terrace enveloped in vibrant sprigs of lavender and grapevines, it was an absolute dream.
We indulged in a glass of their house bubbly followed by a scrumptious platter of succulent prawns, juicy meatballs, creamy brie and crackers and tasty cured meats (to name but a few)…
Unfortunately, due to a wedding we were unable to check out their wine cellar, which then led us to our next stop – Jurassic Ridge.
A slightly more low-key vineyard, Jurassic Ridge was more of a ‘one man and his wine’ affair.
On arrival we were greeted by the owner of the vineyard. With no commercial bar or restaurant, Jurassic Ridge was more of an intimate experience than the other places we’d visited and enabled us to ask questions about the growing and making process of the wines whilst sipping on free samples of each of his favourites.
However, like most polite Brits, after our free samples we felt obliged to make a purchase (what a clever way to make a sale, eh?). So, after much contemplation, we headed back to the ferry port with a couple of bottles of the Sav… to be drunk sensibly on a special occasion, of course…
My day trip to Waiheke was definitely up there with one of my favourite experiences in New Zealand. Sometimes it’s nice to forget that you’re a budget backpacker for a day or two and splurge on a day to remember…