New Zealand

Friday (Day 2) Waiheke Island 

We began the day with a chilly ferry ride to the Island.  The Ferry Station offered a 90 min bus tour for an additional $10 and an all day bus pass for an additional $10!  The combo was well worth the price as it allowed us an overview of the entire island and the opportunity to visit several wineries and walk the beaches.  The only disappointment was that Mudbrick Winery was closed to tourists because of a wedding event. đŸ˜Ÿ

The white sand beaches were beautiful and the shirt sleeve weather was ideal.  We spent a long while enjoying the beach while collecting shells.  And then we grabbed a bite to eat at The Sand Shack, which overlooked the water and beach. 

Our first winery stop was Tantalus.  It is a fairly new winery and tastings were $10 per person.  It was beautiful!  The restaurant was quite busy and would have tempted us if we had not just eaten.  While I didn’t get to see Mudbrick Winery, I don’t see how it could be more beautiful than Tantalus, so my disappointment was placated.

We stopped by Stonyridge Vineyard, but decided to forego tasting at a cost of $3 to $18 per taste!   We did make it to two additional tastings and the hike between the two vineyards certainly balanced out the calorie intake of the wine!   A delightful young lady with an enchanting French accent poured the wine which added to the experience.  It was outdoors and the clouds moved in blocking our sunshine.  It was as though we passed through to another climate, and we quickly donned our hats and scarves…but the changing weather is what New Zealand promises.  

October is Spring in New Zealand and we were fortunate to enjoy so much sunshine, which offered welcome warmth to balance out the coastal cool breezes.  Packing advice for New Zealand?  Layers. Layers.  And more Layers!  Our ferry ride back was in the sunshine on the top deck and we were bundled in all our layers, including hooded jackets and scarves just to enjoy the views.

Waiheke Island is definitely a must do!


New Zealand

Thursday Day 1 – the 12 hour flight from LAX to Aukland on Air New Zealand was not bad.  The seats were comfy and spacious with good hard support, so I slept most f he way.  Leaving at 11pm on Tuesday and arriving at 8:30 AM on Thursday made the adjustment to NZ time fairly easy.  Only the calendar noticed the missing day.

There was a slight delay at customs, because you have to declare hiking attire and even though I explained that my hiking boots were clean, they requested I dig them out of the bottom of the suitcase for inspection.  We were greeted promptly by our tour agent, “uncle” and presented with maps, itinerary and loads of information then taken to our first hotel, Scenic Hotel Aukland on Queens St.  there was an exterior renovation in progress, but the room was very nice and included a kitchenette with refrigerator, stove, and dishwasher.  After viewing the menu prices in Aukland, we may be using the kitchen!  The great thing about the hotel was it was within walking distance of the harbor, the ferry terminal and many restaurant and bar choices.  Our favorite for the day was Danny Doolans Irish Pub.  They had a great New Zealand beer on tap and awesome $2 fish tacos.  Since neither George or Robert would eat fish, we scouted out another choice for dinner.  We opted for pizza at Neptune Cafe & Bar.  Robert was delighted with his veggie option, but we found the food and atmosphere lacking.

The weather on our first day was very pleasant.  The breeze left a chill in the air, but a light sweater was all that was needed, even after dark.