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Waiheke Island, New Zealand: Winery Tour

When we decided to travel to New Zealand, we knew we wanted to explore their wine regions. Before starting our trip in Auckland, we learned that only a 30-minute ferry ride away was Waiheke Island. Some years ago, the locals discovered that the weather (being a couple degrees warmer than nearby Auckland) was the perfect climate for growing grapes. Quickly, vineyards started to pop up until they filled the island with the 40+ wineries they have now, all located on an island only a few miles in length. The ferry ride is cheap and a great way to see the area from the water, and soon you find yourself on the coast of Waiheke. We popped onto an easy hop-on-hop-off bus and began our winery tour.

Stonyridge Vineyard

First, we made our way to Stonyridge. This is a gorgeous, relaxing winery that allows you to grab a seat outside facing the vineyards. It wasn't too crowded, just lively and welcoming, which we really enjoyed. They have two different wine tastings, the regular and the premier. When we visited, the premier featured a wine that was especially unique and retailed for hundreds. Still, the whole tasting was only about $30 New Zealand Dollars. We ordered one regular and one premier and split them both, to taste as many of their wines as possible.

Tantalus Estate

Next stop, Tantalus Estate, which had my favorite aesthetic of any winery I have visited (ever!). If I designed a restaurant, I hope it would look similar to this! They have an open bar area upon entry, open sit down area and couches as you move into the space, an outdoor seating area and garden, and a full cellar and bar hidden downstairs. We knew we wanted to taste as many wines as possible at this stop, so we opted to stand at the tasting bar instead of sitting down for a meal. We both had a great time standing at the bar for a long, enjoyable tasting, with the bartender who spent quality time explaining each one to us as we drank through their options. Our favorite! Definitely stop here.

Mudbrick Vineyard is one of the most popular vineyards on the island, and we understood why. There are a ton of different levels and seats, draping a hill that looks towards Auckland in the distance. We wandered to the cellar where we had an amazing server. So personable and fun to talk to. He paid attention to us, answering all questions and engaged in conversation about the island and why he loved it. It was one of my favorite experiences we had during our tour. The wine was the best of all the places we visited, too. It was very crowded, but definitely lived up to the hype. Don't miss this spot!

P.S. I hear they have one of the greatest restaurants on the island. So if you're looking for a spot to grab a meal, I might consider a reservation here!

Highly recommend this island tour to anyone who loves tasting wines around the world, like me. You may be thinking to yourself, "only three?" From someone who loves a good winery tour, 3 is the perfect sweet spot if you want to get a good tasting in at each one. Maybe 4, if you include one with a meal!

We also noticed that there are some adorable B&B's for those who want to spend a night on the island, and get a few more wineries in.

Here are some other recommendations:

Man O' War, Cable Bay, Obsidian, Passage Rock Wines, Peacock Sky Vineyard Restaurant, Casita Miro, Wild On Waiheke, Man O' War, Batch Winery

So you can plan your whole food filled trip

Any other suggestions? Let us know!

Written by Emi Lungmus

Photos by Emi Lungmus

Edited by Anna McCarthy


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