One of the first things I booked when planning our New Zealand trip was a Taste of Waiheke Tour. With the promise of wine tasting at three wineries, lunch at one of them and olive oil tasting, how could I resist? Waiheke Island is the second largest island in the Hauraki Gulf, a very comfortable 40 minute ferry ride from Auckland. Known as the ‘island of wine’, there are twenty-six vineyards to choose from, most offering gourmet delights as well as a diverse range of wines for tasting. The weather couldn’t have been better if we had ordered it. Both the sea and sky were a clear blue as we arrived at Matiatia Bay.
Sailing boats dotted the water
and beautiful homes nestled on the hillside overlooking the bay.
I couldn’t help feeling a little envious of the island lifestyle.
Our bus driver and guide for the day was a vivacious local lady who has lived on the island for 25 years and regaled us with stories laced with a good dose of humour. The roads are narrow and winding and, although the island is only 92 square kilometres, it would be easy to get lost. After lunch and wine tasting at Stonyridge Vineyard, we called into Rangihoua Estate to sample their award winning Extra Virgin Olive Oils. As well as four olive oil blends, they have a range of spreads and skin care products.
A floor chess board with magnificent carved pieces occupied a space in the tasting room.
We could have lingered in the immaculate gardens all afternoon
but we had another two vineyards to visit and more wine to taste before returning to Matiatia Bay for the ferry journey back to Auckland.
With calm waters ahead
we found a comfortable perch at the back of the boat, soothed by the thrum of the engines and the dancing droplets of the white wake.
As we neared the city
our attention was diverted by the appearance of an enormous sea monster, dwarfing what we thought was our rather substantial ferry.
The impressive Edwardian façade of the ferry terminal awaited, the tour had ended but there was more wine to be tasted that day.