If you were to ask me to describe a single perfect day, it would probably go something like this:
Nick and I got up before the sun to get on the ferry from Auckland to Waiheke Island. It was our second day in New Zealand, and we were heading to Waiheke Island for one reason and one reason only: wine.
Waiheke Island is only 12 miles long, but I absolutely had to go there because of their red wine. To be precise, 30 different vineyards with all of my favorite kind of wine: Syrah, Bordeaux-style blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, and so much more. And you know, with wineries comes lots of restaurants. Once I read that Waiheke Island was filled with red wine, vineyards overlooking the water, and good food, I knew Nick and I had to go.
We stayed at a little bed and breakfast called the Heartsong Retreat, an eco-friendly, tranquil bed and breakfast right on the water, where the owner, Trish, brings your breakfast right to your room. We also decided to book a wine & food tour and were planning to let them take us to whichever wineries they wanted. In a trip that was promising to be completely action-packed, Waiheke Island was to be our time to be real honeymooners, to completely indulge in food and wine in the most stunning place I could imagine.
We had called Trish to let her know we would be getting off of the ferry super early in the morning and to ask if we could just stop by and drop off our bags before we headed out for the day. Since no one had been in the room the night before, she said we were welcome to come into our room as early as we wanted.
Trish and her dog Sammy were ready for us at 9:00 in the morning! She brought us to our room, gave us a tour of her property, and told us she would whip us up something quick since she was already making breakfast for the rest of the guests. I could not get over how much I loved our room:
I loved that we had our own kitchen stocked with coffee and a French Press! I got my caffeine in before our big day of wine tasting!You can see the reflection of the water in the doors — that was our view!Little touches like this were all over the place!We had a look around her retreat, which I can only describe as warm, welcoming, and completely calm. I knew there were other guests but I didn’t see any the whole time we were there.
We came back to our room, and a few minutes later, this is what Trish “whipped up” for us! Not only did she let us into our room practically at the crack of dawn, but she also welcomed us with open arms and gave us breakfast. Her hospitality and her warmth will stay with me for a long time – she is not the kind of person you forget, even after only knowing her for a day. And her guest book was filled with comments from people from all over the world who felt the exact same way.
I’m so glad we had that big breakfast before heading out for the day because a few minutes later, our tour guide, Nigel, came and we went straight to the vineyards. This was like 10:00 in the morning. I didn’t care – I was ready for wine!
Nigel was all kinds of awesome. Originally from Fiji, he told us that he came up to Wahieke Island from Dunedin 40 years ago to visit his brother. It was supposed to be a 2 week trip, but he never left Wahieke Island. I can see why.
Since it was a food and wine tour, all of the wineries gave us some food to eat. This vineyard made their own olive oil so we got to taste it while we drank our wine.
All of the people at the vineyards knew Nigel, and he knew a lot about each of the vineyards. Nigel told us why he was bringing us to different places and what they were known for, so we kind of knew what to look for when we got there. He also knew a lot about the history of Waiheke Island.I felt like having Nigel with us made the whole experience feel more intimate than if we had just showed up to random places. Plus we didn’t have to drive! It was our first time going on a wine tour and it really was a perfect day. We didn’t have to worry about figuring out directions, where to go, and we got to relax and try as much wine as we wanted. Such a perfect honeymoon indulgence!What I loved about all of the vineyards in Waiheke Island is that everyone was so laid back. They poured wine freely, talked to us a little bit about their wines, and then let us just hang out. I sometimes feel like people can be a bit uptight at wineries, and I get a little bit intimidated — I don’t know a lot about wine other than I like it and I want to drink it. But everyone on Waiheke Island just wanted to share their wine and talk to us. It doesn’t get much better than that.After a few vineyards, a stop for lunch was much needed. Of course, lunch was at a winery! Te Whau‘s restaurant had perfect views of the water.
We spent some time outside just relaxing and taking in the views after we finished eating. Nigel later brought us back to Heartsong Retreat, where we just hung out until it was time for dinner. Yes, all we did was eat and drink wine. All day.
Later that night, Nick and I headed out on our own for dinner at one more vineyard! We went to Mudbrick for one of the best meals we had in New Zealand.
Probably the only thing I regretted about our entire trip to New Zealand was that we didn’t plan to stay in Waiheke Island for a longer period of time! But I am still really thankful we were able to spend some time there — I can’t imagine visiting New Zealand and not having gone to Waiheke Island. It was probably one of my favorite days ever.
The next day, we got right back on the ferry so that we could start our road trip!
Our next stop was Rotorua – I can’t wait to share with you all of the geothermal wonders over there!
What’s the best place you’ve ever gone wine tasting? I need to start planning our next trip 🙂