Blog Seven – Waiheke Island
Friday 1 June 2018
And so it was time to leave the Bay of Islands. We were up, fed, watered, packed and off at 8:00 as planned. Nice when a plan comes together. We had spoken with Peter the previous day and had also checked the website and it appears as though we are OK to go down the SH10 as the road had partially and permanently opened again with only a small delay as one lane at a time went through the slip zone. And this proved to be the case with a five minute delay not too far down the road. We were quickly through this and then not too long before we were at back onto Highway One and towards our ferry departure point of Wynyard Wharf.
Along the way Wuzz received an email from Air NZ that the request for an upgrade had been successful so he was all sorted – but what about Ju? We decided to call into Air NZ which wasn’t too far from the wharf and after a fairly easy drive of about three hours from the start of Highway we arrived at the Wynyard area and parked close to the HQ of Air NZ. While they were unable to assist they did call the operators who were able to tell us that Ju’s request had not gone through and how to do it – which was done whilst on the phone so we are now hoping that this comes off. If not it is going to be a bit weird and difficult all at the same time – one of us in Premium Economy and one in Economy. Here’s hoping.
We also did a quick reconnaissance of the wharf and Ju enquired as to the where’s and how’s of the ferry so we were all prepared and knowledgeable. We still had heaps of time to go so we headed into the city to see if we could park and grab a frappa. The parking was non-existent so Ju hoped out and Wuzz did laps – make that lap as the traffic in the area was shocking and even though Starbucks wasn’t really quick Ju still managed to jump in the car after a single lap. Unfortunately there was so much traffic and Mr Google wasn’t playing nicely with Maps Wuzz went through a red light right turn arrow. There was no traffic but we are unsure whether there was a red light camera – hopefully not and none were spotted at the time. Fingers crossed.
With frappa in hand we headed back to the wharf and parked in the allotted area all lined up ready to board the ferry when it arrived at the ramp. We still had awhile to go and we went for a stroll along the wharf where multiple eateries and restaurants were situated. We didn’t realise it until a week or so ago but this weekend is the NZ Queens Birthday long weekend. This explains the amount of people sitting at the restaurants and chilling at the bars having an ale or wine in the middle of the day. We went towards the river and saw the drawbridge being raised and two boats went through which held the pedestrians up for a good ten minutes and then they were right to go back to work or wherever they were headed.
We made our way to the street behind the wharf and found a nice little eatery that served up a nice chicken and salad wrap – we both had the spiced chicken and avo wrap – very good and healthy as well – what a bonus. It wasn’t long to go and we headed back to the car and watched a sea plane saunter off into the harbour out of view before taking off and we then saw our ferry approach and watch the vehicles drive off it and we were then on. We had to reverse onto the ferry and we had no issues with the crew very happy with our effort but it was comical to watch some of the other drivers trying to reverse. Funniest home video should be here as there are some shockers.
The skies were still holding out and we headed up to top of the ferry and had a great view of the Auckland Harbour as we sat on the top and watched it slow fade into the distance. The trip took one hour twenty and we drove off the ferry before 4:00 and headed straight to the Valhalla Winery which was near our accommodation. The area itself was very nice and apparently they were holding a lunch/auction in their restaurant complete with the hosts who had their own helicopter sitting at the end of the vines – it’s hard to understand how some people live – we’d try however!
The wines themselves weren’t anything to write home about – nice but not worth the price so we simply paid for the tasting and left to head to our accommodation. This was a little bit of a struggle given no mobile reception and therefore no Google Maps and a stylised physical maps with only the major roads but we eventually found it. We were met with large gates and an intercom and Ju was informed that our cottage was down the path. We grabbed our gear and headed down to our little cottage where we have the next four nights.
It was a little disappointing considering the price and location. To be clear the cottage was very nice but I think we were hoping for more. As an example there was no closet or a set of drawers or anything to put clothes or other effects in to keep it tidy. I think Tripadvisor will get to hear of the place. The fire place also didn’t work (not sure it if was supposed to) and we couldn’t get the reverse air con to work no matter what buttons we pushed so we were left with a pretty small upright that really didn’t do too much apart from take the more aggressive chill from the air. The bed however was pretty good although two singles joined together and the kitchen was well-appointed, although without an oven or dining room table with stools under the extended kitchen top the only area.
“Unpacking” done we headed into town to see if we could find something to eat and we found an interesting bottle shop where you could also taste form the automated decanters but we did however have taste of Passage Rock wines who had a tasting in store. They were OK but again nothing to write home about. They did however have some interesting ones and we would come back after going for a walk. The walk didn’t really bring up too much in the way of options but on the way back Ju found a Thai restaurant so we decided on that. Before settling down Ju headed to the shop for a couple of supplies and Wuzz headed back to the grog shop and picked up a 2011 Roija from Spain and a bottle of Stones Mac – purely for medicinal purposes!
The Thai restaurant meal of a shared entrée and main meal was very good and we headed home with full stomachs. A quick shower and some TV and we were gone for the night after a very large day of travelling all the way from the Bay of Islands. Sleep didn’t take long at all!
Saturday 2 June 2018
The weather report for today was cloudy but deteriorating as the afternoon progressed but the next two days were going to be decidedly wet, or very wet. On this basis we decided to make the best of the bad weather and head off on the gravel road around the east of the island. However after brekkie we headed off to the local markets at Ostend about a seven minute from our place. Just before heading off we had great news. Ju’s one up offer to Premium Economy had been accepted! This was a great relief and meant we were both in the same section, although our seats could not be together we were sitting across the aisle from one another so all wasn’t too bad in that department. It was really, really good news and we left for the day with a weight being lifted.
The markets weren’t exactly New Farm Markets and didn’t take long to move around but we did buy a few things – a loaf of spelt and rye, a couple of scrapbooking cards and a cappuccino in an actual mug that Wuzz drunk as we went around the RSA hall. Bizarre but nice in a folksy kind of way. The chemist wasn’t open so we headed off on our jaunt around the island. It was very pleasant and while we didn’t see any sun it was good to see the whole of the island. We started by taking a drive to the north-ish of the island to the little village of Onetangi. There was a fair breeze and we made a quick comfort stop and also noted Charlie Farley’s for future reference as this had been recommended to us as a good place to eat.
We then headed further east and turned onto the gravel roads and carefully sauntered along at an easy pace stopping here and there for a photo or two especially where there was a lookout. Probably about an hour later after leaving Onetangi we arrived right on 11:00 for opening time at the Man of War Winery. This was one of the better wineries we had visited with the reds particularly good and the staff very pleasant. We had a quite a few tastings and even a year flight of one their premiums. Wuzz felt like chilling and taking advantage of the location with the pacific ocean just on the doorstep and a view of nearby islands we bought a glass of wine each and sat outside in the overcast and breezy environs on the veranda. A very pleasant way to spend an hour but that over we then headed on the road which was boarded by the ocean on one side and winery on the other. We weren’t sure it was the road as it is also framed by a gate but sure enough it was and headed further down the road.
About a further half hour we came across Poderi Crisci Winery, or at least the road into the winery. It wasn’t the best and we weren’t sure what part of the winery was open and what wasn’t as we were looking for a bite by this stage. A couple of kms in we reached the winery and the restaurant was packed so we headed to the Locanda (which was supposed to be closed) and had a tasting and at the same time we partook in lunch of ragu tagliatelle which was very, very good. We continued on the road around the island and eventually headed back on the bitumen and continued on our merry way and back to our cottage via a stop at Countdown for dinner and wine.
Back here we chilled and not long after arriving home Ju headed down to the deck and filled the bath overlooking Woodside Bay joined by Wuzz sitting next to the bath, both of us with a glass in hand. Whilst having a bath a hick from the country decided to drive past in front of the deck on a dirt path in a little scooper/scraper on tracks. Wuzz stood and watched while he made very slow progress past the deck and not long after this we headed upstairs and into the warmth now that the hosts had changed the air con to be heated. Also not long after the numbnut on his farm vehicle came back again and started doing work right in front of the deck! Seriously fuck the hell off. Secluded area with a cottage and he wants to do earth work right in front of the deck. Straight to Tripadvisor.
That was about it for the day. We had a dinner of nibbles and wine and watched a bit of TV before headed to bed and a few ZZs.
Sunday 3 June 2018
The Metservice was correct and while we woke up to overcast skies, it soon started raining. We waited for it to ease by having brekkie and about 10:00 we braved the elements and drove into town. Whilst we left when the rain wasn’t too bad this wasn’t the case when we arrived in town. It was bucketing! We made a brave decision to grab a coffee and parked near the small supermarket called the Island Grocer where Ju went the night before and we half ran across the road and around the corner to a little café called the Delight Café and it was a delight to be inside! This was tropical QLD rain at its best and Wuzz had a nice cappuccino while Ju tried the caramel latte but as is usual it didn’t live up to expectations.
Given the conditions we decided to try a winery or two so we headed further away from our accommodation and made the short drive to Mudbrick winery. Here we had a joint tasting for $10 but wasn’t overly fond of any we tried so we decided to try the next one down the road the Jurassic Ridge Winery. This took some finding. It was supposed to be right next door however we couldn’t find the sign and after going down the road, going back up and then coming back down we finally found the sign – CLOSED! It was supposed to be open but obviously didn’t need to over the long weekend! Not surprising given the overpriced wines they are selling on a confined environment. It’s probably one of the few areas we have been anywhere that we have bought more wine at a bottle shop than at wineries!
Given it was still bucketing and we weren’t having much luck we came to the conclusion that weather had beaten us today so we started the drive back to our cottage. We stopped on the way at the Countdown at Ostend and picked up a bottle rose from Mission Estate in the Hawke’s Bay area and a Carminere from Concha y Toro! One that we had been looking for ever since I had spotted it at a supermarket a couple of weeks ago. A few nibbles for the afternoon and we were set for the day!
We made it home where as expected the rain started to ease and within an hour it had completely disappeared, although it still looked threatening and overcast for the remainder of the day. Ju had another outside bath and Wuzz kept company again with rose in hand! A few nibbles, a bit of housekeeping, wine and a dinner of omelettes that used most of our booty we had collected over the past three weeks and we had a very pleasant afternoon and evening with our favourite channel again being HGTV with all the House Hunters and the like being on. Seriously there is very little of interest on NZ TV. Maybe that’s why they needed an internet so badly – Netflicks! And that was us for another day.
Monday 4 June 2018
Our last day on Waiheke and had a few things to do after the washout of yesterday. Brekkie done we headed out and did a bit of drive to the northeast of the island so see some of the houses and sights in the area. There wasn’t anything of note but some of the places had great views and would have been quite exclusive and had gates to match. We also visited a couple of beach areas and occasionally stretched our legs for a better look.
Back on the road and another five minute drive and we had found ourselves a great park (incredibly hard to find) at the top of the main street and the shops. We cruised in an out of the few shops without buying anything and went from shop to shop just looking at the merchandise but there wasn’t anything we would have considered buying even if we didn’t have the luggage restrictions – we are going to be very tight on the BNE – MKY return flights!
And so we made it to the end of the street and Wuzz spotted the usual red and while barber sign and decided to investigate and sure enough tucked away at the back of an arcade was a local (originally from Bremen in Germany) barber. This was much to the relief of Wuzz who was by now looking like a hippie not having had a haircut in five weeks! Scruffy indeed. The barber did a good job and was very quick and in about 10 minutes he had finished and $20 paid and we were on our way.
With the day still a pup we decided to see if any wineries out our way were open. We were going to go to Te Motu Winery but not unexpectedly, it was closed. We headed up the road next to it and visited Stonyridge Winery. This was a bit of nothing for us. They weren’t really interested and the wine was only so so and after a couple of tastes we were gone and back on the road.
By now it was lunch and we drove back to the Onetangi area and right on the beach under very cloudy and sometimes rainy skies was Charley Farley’s where we stopped for lunch. We had a wine with our fare which was very good and we chilled for awhile with a window seat looking out over the bay. It was a bit of a shame that the weather wasn’t better as the views would have been great and we could have sat outside. Unfortunately the weather gods aren’t always able to produce perfect weather and so it was for most of the Weiheke Island visit.
After lunch we went for a bit of drive around the Onetangi area and lot long after we arrived at Obsidian winery. This was a winery for us. The service was great, we were outdoors under a roof and the wine was quite good and surprisingly had very good reds. The island climate is not conducive to good red grape growing – not enough heat however Obsidian seems to have mastered the craft with quite a few reds hitting the right notes. We decided to lash out and buy a bottle of the merlot cabernet to be consumed during the afternoon and evening hours – yum!
And this bought our touring to an end. Our last day on Weiheke and packing to be done so we headed back to our nice little cottage and started packing and organising dinner and drinks to consume what we had brought. And a lot it was too with vodka and Stones Mac and also the wine! We also had a little bit of food left and ate we wanted but there was very little left so it was extremely good planning on our part! Packing done as much as we could we decided to kick back and watch a bit of the box before heading off to bed to up early and catch the ferry back to Auckland.