I lived in Auckland for over a year and a half before finally heading over to Waiheke Island. We talked about it and everyone said it was great but it didn’t get to the top of our list until a few weeks ago. We had a free day and decided to do a little exploring — Waiheke is known for wine, food, and beautiful scenery and we weren’t disappointed.
We weren’t that organized and didn’t really do much research – we simply walked over to the ferry terminal and got in line. If you have an Auckland Transport (AT card), you don’t need to get tickets which is nice. The boats leave just about every 30 minutes so we didn’t wait long but it isn’t that obvious which line to stand in or how to use your AT card so we had to ask a few people which line to get in and make sure we were in the right place. Once you get close to getting on the boat, there is an AT card kiosk but we had to get out of line to scan our card and then get back in – awkward. Most of the folks on the boat had paper tickets that had to be scanned by an attendant.
Anyway, that was the hardest part. Thirty minutes or so later and we arrived at the island and disembarked. We picked up a brochure and figured that we could either take a bus into town or walk – it was a beautiful day so we walked and about 40 minutes later we were in the little town of Oneroa. Oneroa is small (population about 7,700) but gorgeous! It’s on a bit of a narrow part of the island so has beaches on both sides with several restaurants and shops.
A quick search on TripAdvisor and we opted for a restaurant called Vino Vino. They have beautiful tables overlooking the beach and options for indoor or outdoor seating. The food was incredible and we tried a few of the local wines from Passage Rock and Man O’War wineries.
Next door to Vino Vino is the Waiheke Wine Centre. We stopped in here to purchase a bottle of the Passage Rock since we liked it so much and were surprised to see it has automated wine tasting! What a great idea. You buy a little electronic card (called an Enocard) and put money on it and then put that in the machine with the wines and it dispenses a tasting for you. They had 32 different wines here that you can taste this way!
On a separate note, the clerk at the Wine Centre said that The Winery in Queenstown has even more self-tastings available. I Googled it and you can try over 80 wines there using the electronic card.
After the Wine Centre, we spent quite a bit of time visiting the shops, walking the beach, and exploring Oneroa and had a great time before heading back to the ferry and catching the next boat back home. We never made it to an actual winery but decided that next time we’ll do a tour of the wineries. And next time we will bring our swim suits (togs) since the water looked incredible and the beaches were clean and clear.