Just a 30 minute ferry ride from Auckland, Waiheke Island is a city-goer's paradisaical retreat. Affectionately known as “The Island of Wine,” Waiheke is dotted with award-winning vineyards, sumptuous beaches and rolling green hills.
The landscape is pure and vast and, on a sunny day, Waiheke screams bliss.
With less than 10,000 residents, this quaint little island, with an emphasis on great wine and fine food, could very well take the rank as the perfect place to retire.
Because New Zealand hosts some of the best beef and lamb in the world, the luscious wine of Waiheke makes the perfect pair. It's the ideal place to take a break, enjoy a luxury wine tour, explore the vineyards, and tickle your taste buds.
Most notably, I enjoyed a glass of Man O War Pinot Gris by Onetangi Beach while I read a few passages out of Dickens. It doesn't get any better.
The wine tour couldn't have been more enjoyable (except for the Canadian wannabe wine nut who wouldn't stop talking about sugar and acid levels). I truly do enjoy my wine and I make all the pretentious statements like “I'm getting dark chocolate, fig and cinnamon on the nose,” but there's a line, people. Don't cross it!
Each vineyard was so different, both in styles and in flavors. But they were all unequivocally beautiful. The highlight at Stonyridge Vineyard was the 2010 Larose, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. It was a truly unique and satisfying tasting experience. The 2011 vintage awaits its release below.
Cable Bay's Sauvignon Blanc was perfectly balanced and an excellent representation of the region. The venue was unspeakably gorgeous–long green fields juxtaposed against the vineyard with the distinctive skyline of Auckland in the distance.
And the food at Mudbrick was exquisite! The chef prepared a New Zealand lamb back strap with dried grapes and capsicum with a harissa spiced lamb jus. It was supplemented by a cucumber tzatziki with mint and a saffron cous cous with almonds and dried apricots. The golden ball is a lamb nugget with oxtail and lamb sweetbreads. Hungry yet?
I spent quite some time at Mudbrick, actually, relaxing in the sun by the vines. It's a beautiful place for an afternoon glass (or bottle!) of wine.
After spending time in Auckland, Waiheke Island was the perfect deviation. Auckland is just another hustle-and-bustle type of city and I can safely say that the best part about Auckland is getting out of it. Do yourself a favor and put Waiheke on the must-do list. I returned to Auckland feeling invigorated, rejuvenated and slightly hungover.
But it was the best hangover I've ever had.
Just another weekend away, gallivanting through vineyards, relaxing on lavish beaches and indulging in magnificent food and drink is testament to the fact that I truly am living my dream.
It doesn't get better than this.