New Zealand is blessed with numerous wine regions, on both the North and South Islands. Lucky for those living in or visiting Auckland, one is a short 35 minute ferry ride from Auckland - Waiheke Island.
With it's warm and dry weather, this 12 mile long island is a great spot to grow a variety of wines. Waiheke is home to 30+ boutique wineries and award winning wines, including Bordeaux style reds (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc), Syrah and even some Chardonnay.
Whether you are short on time or have a few days, Waiheke is well worth a visit.
One can say that the local mantra is "Small is Beautiful". Waiheke may not be one of New Zealand's high quantity producers, but it produces high quality fruit and award winning wines, including some sensational Syrah that is quite competitive with Australian products. A great way experience these wines is on a tour, with visits to 3-4 wineries (which of course includes tastings), meeting the owners or winemaker, taking in gorgeous scenery and not having to worry about driving.
Along with the vineyards are beautiful olive groves that produce equally delicious olive oils. Rangihoua Estate, New Zealand's most awarded olive oil producer, offers tours and the opportunity to stay at their Tuscan style holiday home.
Wine may have put Waiheke on the map, but many other experiences await visitors.
The island's main town of Onerea is a short bus ride/drive from where the ferry arrives, or about a 15 minute walk. Here you will find an eclectic array of art galleries, shops, cafes and restaurants for all interests and tastes. On Saturdays, experience wonderful local fare and deliccies at the Ostend Farmer's Market, just a few minutes drive from Onerea.
Photo courtesy of New Zealand Tourism - photo by Matthew Crawford.
Waiheke is a place for outdoor lovers as well. Lavender fields are a plenty. Numerous tramping (hiking) trails take you to beaches, through native forests and back in time past remnants from World War II. White sand beaches and crystal blue waters are perfect for swimming and kayaking. Birders won't have to search long to observe over 50 different species. Birds are everywhere!
Waiheke Island is definitely a place not to be missed - a perfect spot for wine and art lovers, foodies and outdoor enthusiast to explore, for a few hours, a day or several, upon arrival from a long overseas flight or to relax before saying goodbye to this beautiful country.
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Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder