What a great way to spend a day in Auckland - ride a ferry (about an hour), relax on a beach, drink some wine... We knew we wanted to visit the island, and visit some wineries, what we struggled a bit with was the getting around part. There is a cheap shuttle that runs about once an hour around the island and stops at most wineries (you need to pre-buy the bus pass), but we wanted both to be a bit more efficient with our limited time (i.e. less waiting around at bus stops) and also get a bit more attention at the wineries and so we decided to hop on a guided tour. There are a couple to choose from although since we called late on Sunday for a Monday trip, we did find some full. We were pleasantly surprised that Ananda picked up the phone at that time and did have room for us. If that doesnt work, there is at least one taxi company that offers guided trips around the island - ofcourse you'll pay a bit more, but the difference isnt that big.
There's a very pleasant ferry ride from Auckland to Waiheke, and then you're met at the ferry terminal. Our driver/guide was very friendly and helpful. We were scheduled to visit 4 wineries (some were closed at this time; early April). I'm guessing this has something to with drinking wine, but after the first couple of high energy winery visits, by the time we hit the fourth one both the presentation and the attentiveness of our fellow travellers had fallen quite a lot. Indeed, at the last one they kept on telling us how they were sold out of their most popular wines and thus had none of those for tasting. They also seemed to have little of the solid presentation skills of the earlier wineries we had visited. Although clearly disappointed at this last visit, that's probably just how it goes - some places are better than others. Of the ones we visited, we liked (if I remember the name properly) Peacock Sky best as they had paired wines with food and had a spirited presentation (they have a restaurant too if you want to eat there). After a morning of tasting, there was an opportunity to have a latish lunch at (?) mudbrick. By this time in our vacation (almost last day) we were pretty much done with fancy eating, and although highly rated we were also told by some of our fellow travellers that it was very expensive for what you got.
We just grabbed a relaxed lunch in the small main town of Waiheke and then strolled down to the beach for some downtime before getting picked up to go back to Auckland on the ferry. I'll end this review the way I started it - what a great day to spend in/away when you're in Auckland.
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