Monday, December 28, 2015

Waiheke Island

Day 2 in Auckland promised to be as hot and sunny as day 1. Our plan was to go to Waiheke Island.

We went for breakfast at Imperial Lane, just around the corner from the hotel They do a really tasty honey-cured bacon there - in the words of the man from Dilmah, "Do try it!" Then after a quick Skype with the rellies back in Blighty, we headed out to the ferry terminal to book some tickets.

Both the wine tours were fully booked, so we got ourselves vineyard hopper tickets which allow you to hop on and hop off the vineyard bus at your own pace. We started off in the main town, Oneroa, and had a quick refreshment before setting out to the first vineyard, Mudbrick.

I'd originally planned to get some lunch there but they were packed out and we hadn't booked. I'd also planned to do their wine tasting quickly then head five minutes up the road to Jurassic Ridge. That didn't happen either. Due to the the throng of people tasting wine, it took us nearly an hour to get through them, whilst also chatting to Rob, the cellar door manager, about his and our histories and adventures in the wine business, as well as the wines we were tasting. Most of the wine is not made with locally-grown grapes but sourced from Gisborne, Otago and Hawkes Bay. They do make a Syrah and Chardonnay from their own grapes, but as we have to carry whatever we buy back on the plane, I decided not to buy any.

We took the next bus back into Oneroa for a spot of lunch at Fenice, before going out to the end of the route to Casita Miro, a Spanish-themed vineyard out in Onetangi Bay. The tasting experience there is somewhat different: they provide five wines, each with a tapa on top, and explain them all in one go at the beginning. As I wasn't driving I was able to drink these rather than spit them, and the tapas were tasty, too. The final tapa in the tasting was a walnut marinated in the fortified wine we were drinking - a port-style drink - which we were quite taken with, so bought ourselves a small supply to take with us from the vineyard shop.

All this mucking about meant that, as we were walking down the hill to the bus stop, we saw some people we recognised from the tour earlier in the day coming up the hill. ANd no, the driver hadn't waited. It was an hour until the next bus arrived, so we made our way along the road with the help of a friendly local, and took a "normal" bus back to Matiatia Wharf to catch the ferry back to  Auckland. As we got off the bus the driver wished us a good trip "back to New Zealand", which got a chuckle.

Arriving back at 6:30, we went straight to Wynyard Quarter, Auckland's new entertainment area in converted industrial space, for dinner at Marvel's this seemed to be popular with the young folk, but we weren't the only people over 30 there. We enjoyed some seafood and a pav before heading back in the late evening sunshine.

Tomorrow, we head north.

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