At the beginning of our long-awaited Kiwi adventure, my boyfriend Kevin and I met up with his sister, Stephanie, in Auckland to start our month of fun. Steph and her parents had just arrived in from Dubai and were anxious to explore Auckland, despite having just arrived from halfway around the world. I was incredibly impressed when they immediately wanted to meet up and grab dinner and drinks, especially when I had done little more than sleep for about 48 hours after arriving in town the previous Friday. That night we headed down into the Viaduct Basin portion of the CBD (Central Business District) for drinks and dinner with their parents. We ended up having dinner there the following night, as well, so Kev and I are getting a solid jump start on exploring the food scene of Auckland!
During our days in Auckland, we explored the various sections of the sprawling city. We walked through the Auckland Domain and meandered through the beautiful adjacent Winter Gardens. After a lunch at the adorable Wintergarden Cafe located in the middle of the park, our group visited the Auckland Museum (though they were about to close, so this visit has to happen again).
Over our three days, we ate and drank just about everything we came across. Once we had tasted all that Auckland was good for, we took a ferry to the nearby Waiheke Island to continue our food and beverage adventure.
The picturesque Waiheke Island is home to over 30 vineyards and is only an hour-long ferry ride from the Auckland pier. Translation: it is a perfect day trip. We started with little more than a map of the island and a knowledge that wine was in abundance, and made up our route as we went along. There is an incredibly convenient hop-on, hop-off bus for $49/day (including a return ferry ticket to Auckland) that takes you along the main roads of the 19.3 kilometer long island, stopping at various points which usually coincide with vineyard driveways. During the ferry ride that morning, we each picked a vineyard and then set out our path from there. Though the vineyards all have incredible scenery and relaxing atmospheres, they each had a different vibe, which was seen through their decor, staff, and available varietals.We spent a few hours tasting at a couple vineyards, then took a bit of a walk through the rolling hills striped with endless rows of grapes. The weather had heated up considerably, and by our next vineyard we decided to rehydrate with a bottle of champagne. It was a really rough day…With each vineyard we visited, I found myself plotting my “perfect” weekend getaway for the next time I came to visit Waiheke Island. I’d definitely like to stay for a night or two to explore the internationally acclaimed restaurants and – of course – visit more vineyards. It was a perfect day trip, but savouring wine can be made difficult when constantly being overshadowed by a bus time schedule…Towards the end of our day on Waiheke Island, we realized the aforementioned bus schedule was working against us. We were going to miss the last bus to the Waiheke pier, thereby being stranded on the opposite side of the island (Stuck in paradise, oh no! Anything but that!!!), an issue we didn’t want to deal with.Our solution was to sprint for about ten minutes and arrive just in time to jump on board of the idling double decker bus towards our ferry. Luckily, we worked off some of the delicious wines we got to taste throughout the day and made it back in time to enjoy our last night in Auckland.