We woke up to a gorgeous sunrise in Auckland! Seriously, the weather has been so much better than we thought it was going to be! The window in our room afforded views of the bay where we would head to catch a ferry to Waiheke Island for the day.
After a quick breakfast, a forty-minute ferry ride brought us to Waiheke Island, known for its bespoke wineries. Most of them are small-batch wineries, and many of the wines are only available on the island. We signed up for a tour with Waiheke Island Wine Tours, so we were greeted by our guide at the ferry landing and ushered to a van with four other day-trippers for a tour around the island and a visit to three of the twenty plus wineries found there.
On the way to the first winery, our guide shared interesting facts about the island and about the history of his own family there. We saw more lovely vistas reminiscent of our journey yesterday, and still found ourselves saying, “WOW!” more times than one.
The first winery, Miro Winery, has a Spanish flare. The owner of the winery is a jack-of-all trades: a grape-grower, wine-expert, and a full-time doctor in Auckland. In addition to all that, he is also something of an artist–all the mosaic work around the table where we did wine tasting was hand-placed by him. The wines were nicely paired with foods to enhance the taste. The sweet sommelier who guided us through was the son of the winery owner. A really nice tasting overall.
The second winery, Obsidian Winery, was a little more bare-bones in views and environment, but their wine was some of our favorites of the day. If you’re looking for jaw-dropping scenery, this might not be the stop for you. But if you’re looking for delightful wines, this is a terrific stop. The third-oldest vineyard on the island, their wines are well-developed and perfected.
The third and final winery we visited was Te Motu. All their wines are aged at least five years before they are released–and most of their wines age well for years. We enjoyed a seventeen-year-old wine at the very end of our tasting that still had, as they put it, “quite a bit of life left.”
After the third tasting, we headed back to Miro Winery for a late lunch at Casita Miro, an award-winning tapas restaurant on the grounds. We got to enjoy another glass of our favorite wine there, along with some delicious tapas plates. Along with the tapas, we enjoyed some great conversation with our fellow tour-goers: a couple from Chicago on their honeymoon and sisters from California on a 30th birthday/new career celebration trip.
David from Chicago is actually originally from Kentucky, a fact we learned early on when Tim spotted his UK gear. In addition to being from Kentucky, we learned that his high school band director was an eager supporter of a recently formed band at a new high school in Nicholasville, Kentucky back in 1998 (the very same band in which Tim marched) and he attended Centre College. Small world!
At the end of lunch, we were back at the ferry landing for the return trip to Auckland. Our dinner reservation time gave us a little time to relax before we walked back to Viaduct Harbour.
Tim was a good leaning post after a long day of wine tasting. 🙂
Dinner at Oysters and Chop was delicious, and the views of the harbor were terrific. I had New Zealand lamb (again!) and enjoyed every bite. Our waitress was clearly from the states, but made it a game for us to guess exactly where she grew up. We had three guesses each time she came to the table. On her fourth visit, we guessed correctly: Maryland.
Tomorrow morning we say farewell to Auckland. Up next: a journey to Rotorua and the highly anticipated trip to Hobbiton.