Carolina: Cruising Past 70: 7 Great Spots on Waiheke, #4 Island of the World 2016

Thursday, November 2, 2017

7 Great Spots on Waiheke, #4 Island of the World 2016

road trip on Waiheke

Waiheke Island is the second-largest and most populated island off Auckland, New Zealand. With nearly 8,730 permanent residents, another estimated 3,400 wealthy Aucklanders own holiday homes. In 2015, the Island was ranked the fifth best destination in the world by Lonely Planet. More recently, in 2016, Waiheke was voted the fourth best in Condé Nast’s Best Islands in the World List.

Matiatia Wharf

It was easy to see why Waiheke Island is the jewel of Hauraki Gulf. With regular ferry sailings, Waiheke is the perfect place to escape to for the day. Here’s how our day with Winnie, a long-missed college friend, went. First, we met at the downtown ferry terminal in Auckland. We arrived in Matiatia Bay on the Island, 13.4 miles away, after 35 minutes. There were a lot of photo-ops on the ferry and in the lovely wharf, especially when we got back after the island tour, right before sunset.

Orapiu Bay

Winnie immediately went to the car rental place and took out a little red car for us to use that day. She drove us to the southern part of the island and asked if we wanted to venture to the southernmost part in Orapiu Bay. Of course, we did! There we found one man fishing from the old wooden jetty. It was totally serene but also pretty exciting at the same time.

Man O’War Bay

Then we went up north, through rough coastal
roads, unfarmed empty fields, and homes few and far between until we reached the easternmost part of the island on Man O' War Bay. There we found the only waterfront vineyard and winery on the island. And we lingered at its beachfront tasting room to sample its best sellers and have our photos taken around the garden.

Onetangi Bay

Going further north and then westward, we reached the beachfront residences of many islanders around Onetangi Bay.  At the quiet beach, we saw a single man gamely playing with his dog on the beach with its rhythmic waves crashing on its waiting shoreline. How hard it was to capture the essence of the captivating scene through my inexperienced lens!

Ocean View Road

As we went further east through Ocean View Road, we found the many holiday homes of wealthy Aucklanders. We looked for a special one, the one owned by my friend Zenie and her husband Parkin Low, with whom we were staying in Auckland. It was one of the more modest bachs but it had a spectacular view of the Bay. How great it would have been had we stayed there for the night, too!

Mudbrick Restaurant and Vineyard

At about 2 pm, we had made the complete circle and reached the western part of the island where most of the art galleries, the shops, the restaurants, and other tourist destinations were located. Winnie selected Mudbrick for lunch. An excellent selection, the winery has a large restaurant with floor to ceiling windows, a second-floor deck for more viewing pleasures, and an extended balcony with dining tables for even better views of Auckland and Rangitoni Island. Each dish we ordered was explained to us by the chef’s assistant. The gardens and the gift shop completed the enchanting scene.

Cable Bay Winery

As if that was not enough, Winnie then brought us to another winery nearby, Cable Bay, with even more spectacular scenery. Ostensibly, it was only for dessert and coffee. But beyond the dining area, again through floor to ceiling windows, stands a wide expanse of greenery rolling down to the waters below. And it was overlooking another view of Auckland at a distance, and small islands between.   

We felt like we were a world away, as we soaked in stunning sea views, tasted world -class wines, and feasted on delectable cuisine. We found it hard to leave, after walking around some stunning coastal headlands, touring three spectacular vineyards and seeing idyllic scenes of sheep and fields as we drove around the island. We truly enjoyed our time on Waiheke. We are glad we took a day away from our Auckland tour.

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