We had time for one more new place before leaving lovely New Zealand. From Nelson we headed back up north once again to Wellington, where we stayed with some friends, and then back up to Hawkes Bay, our home away from home. We showed Matt around Napier, where we lived for several months when we were working, and introduced him to our extended kiwi family. During this time back with Allan and Rhonda, Grace was crazy again and did a bungee jump, we climbed up Te Mata peak again, ate our favourite local ice cream and drank local wine, and celebrated Rhondda’s birthday! Before we left New Zealand we had a few days spare at the end, and decided that instead of spending it in Auckland we would take the ferry and hop on over to Waiheke Island.
Waiheke Island is known for two things: wine and sunshine. We managed just one of the two, as it was quite cloudy and stormy while we were there. It’s just as well the vineyards are still open on rainy days! We weren’t there for long, and we didn’t have a car, but we did manage a few nice walks and a trip to two vineyards.
On our first day we walked from our hostel, which was just outside the little town of Oneroa, and went walking. It wasn’t yet raining (although the skies looked heavy), so we headed towards the nearby beaches. The island still looked beautiful, if a little grey, and we all agreed that it would be stunning in summer. We followed paths along beaches and through nature reserves until we were tired and the rain had started. We returned to our hostel to warm in front of the fire and read our books. It was definitely a very peaceful stay so far.
The next day we visited two vineyards that were within walking distance on the same side of the island as our hostel. We visited Cable Bay first, a chic, modern winery with views back out over the water, with Auckland’s skyline in the distance. It was another drizzle day, but we could still make out the outline of the skyscrapers and the famous Sky Tower. We went to the cellar door for a session of wine tasting. After taking a variety of reds and whites, we settled on the fresh and smooth Sauvignon Blanc (a New Zealand classic) and the slightly spicy Pinot Noir. Feeling slightly warmed we braved the outside once again and walked a short distance up to road to Mudbrick vineyard. The cellar door interior couldn’t have been more different than Cable Bay. The walls were, you guessed it, mud brick, and the wines were stored on dusty wooden shelves. We perused the gift shop and then had a second tasting. Here we really liked their own take on champagne, a summery bubbly which didn’t quite fit with the cold, blustery weather outside. We learned more about the various wines of Waiheke before calling it a day and heading back to the warmth of our hostel.
The next day we went back to Auckland in time to catch our flight out of New Zealand. Our time on Waiheke was short, but sweet, and it’s just a shame we didn’t have a chance to visit during the summer months. We were sad to be leaving New Zealand behind us, it had been our home away from home for almost 8 months and we had all enjoyed it so much. The people were unbelievably friendly and the scenery was breathtaking. We will definitely be visiting again, so don’t forget us guys!