New Zealand’s Wine Country: The Island Of Waiheke

New Zealand’s “winter,” I learned this past summer, is essentially a Michigan Spring. Grey, wet and you’ll definitely need a jacket.

I visited in July this year after my trip to Australia and flew from Sydney to New Zealand’s capital, Auckland. When the lovely Simonne (who is featured in my post about bungee jumping) offered to show me around, I leaped at the opportunity. I booked a super cheap flight ($175) via Virgin Atlantic and made it to Auckland in about 3 hours.

An important thing to note when traveling to New Zealand is that they have some serious customs laws and enforcement – and they don’t mind side tracking your itinerary to ensure you’re clean. In the interest of protecting their wildlife and renowned natural beauty, they strictly abide by regulations on meat, nuts, vegetation, etc. I was unfortunately placed in a massive line where they searched through bags and carry-on items. Make note of this potential time-stealer when traveling internationally into NZ.

I was sadly in this incredible country for a mere 3 days, and with that, Simonne mentioned she had the perfect plan for me as we settled into our hotel in Auckland: We were going on a boat to the island of Waiheke, which boasts of some of New Zealand’s most amazing wine country – something I could not miss while visiting, even in the winter.

map d-72d4bdaa-1a4b-7c6e-9a0c2d55b4a6611c-3747524

Photo Credit:

Simonne, three of her friends and I booked a ferry ride ($10-$15 NZ dollars) on a grey and cloudy day out to Waiheke from Auckland. The ride took only about 45 minutes or so and we managed to down a few glasses of wine to “prepare” us for our vineyard visit.

10868111_10154930324090543_1360718825477743773_n 10172707_10154930323935543_7984510108733803809_n

Upon arrival to the island, we had transportation pick us up and take us all through the island to get to our wine tasting for the day. Our driver was extremely knowledgeable about the island and shared tons of stories about the inhabitants and some of his favorite vineyards. He informed us that Waiheke is particularly known for Bordeaux wine grapes, Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc as well as Syrah thanks to its climate and rugged landscape allowing for all kinds of soils for winemaking. We happened to be going to his favorite for the afternoon (and amongst Simonne’s) – Man O’ War Vineyardsa historic establishment on the island and family-owned with over 4,500 acres (one-fifth of the island). Each wine is named after war elements and battleships such as Ironclad, Dreadnought and Valhalla.

10858033_10154930272280543_8115149507221242787_n 10373702_10154930273580543_7230601087474862411_n 1509145_10154930274535543_1525092770897557596_n


We had trays of cheese, charcuterie in their Tasting Room and of course – tons of wine.  The Tasting Room looked like an adorable beach side home, a rickety old wooden dock, complete with a barking dog greeting us and a wraparound porch. Earlier that day, Man O’ War lost power and it ended up just being our group and our two guides that afternoon along with their incredibly friendly (albeit stinky) dog, Lucy. We instantly became best friends.

10455999_10154930275255543_702477636691271814_n 10404142_10154930273135543_2190411020566686820_n
1505068_10154930275490543_5524039682330670052_n 10857891_10154930271890543_886499699307540448_n


After a guided tasting with our incredible hostesses, we were allowed to pick whatever bottles were our favorite and enjoy the outdoors and the property. Even though it was chilly, the sun finally peaked out over the waters. Simonne couldn’t be happier – she said it was her positive thoughts and hard wishing that made it happen. We sat on the porch, took pictures on the beach and enjoyed the day laughing and saying ridiculous things I had to write down to remember.

10394643_10154930274000543_3443717594298868623_n 1510557_10154930272655543_6295385126779828700_n 10857829_10154930273260543_4881211154306992586_n 16806_10154930275155543_1124332502359968573_n


1656406_10154930272870543_7471070425097504990_n 10850282_10154930274415543_5637904239910609165_n

Taking the boat back to Auckland, I braved the weather and went out to the deck as the boat fought against the waves. I stared at a foreign landscape that looked like something I had only seen in movies before – something I thought never truly existed without CGI or editing. All the unnamed mini islands, the mountains and hills, the cliffs and greenery – even in all the greyness of a New Zealand “winter” – it was beautiful. I still to this day cannot believe people get to live there and wake up to that view every morning.

541590_10154930323850543_1093584568722394022_n 10628512_10154930323570543_3319714262508159260_n 10393953_10154930323450543_69568374252392645_n


Back home in New York, I recently cleaned my desk and found the sheet of paper with inside jokes from that day in Waiheke and it really warmed my heart.

One of my favorite days of my life thanks to great wine and even better company.

I know I will visit New Zealand again… And Queenstown, you are up next!


Photo Credit:



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s