Fabulous Auckland (Waiheke) in a day

I couldn’t have imagined a more fun-filled day in Auckland of all places! Waiheke Island, a 30 min boat hop from Auckland’s downtown, is a gem. I’m so glad we spent a full day out there.

Pier to get on Ferry to Waiheke Island
  1. MORNING

8:10 Ferry from Auckland to Waiheke (we got the round-trip tickets, but didn’t get the additional bus option)

8:55 We were picked up at the Waiheke Island pier for Ecozip!

Ezozip is around 2 hours. Three zips. At the first one. On my god. Standing on the elevated platform, sweaty hands on the vertical thing you’re supposed to grab hold of, I wasn’t sure if I could go through with swinging myself all the way to the other end of the rope. Luckily, our guide’s words stuck, “You’re always connected.” and with a deep breath, I took off. It felt easier too as we zipped in pairs, so you don’t feel so alone. And of course by the end of the three zips, you’ll be wondering, “Can I go again??”

Two newbies zipping through.

What’s nice about the tour is that it’s very well-organized — sunblock available on the tables after we lock up our belongings, equipment laid out, and demonstrations and instructions clear. So it felt quite easy. Not sure about the minimum age to go on; they’ve had fun-seekers over 80.

The tour wraps-up with a hike back to base camp. A chance to experience the woods that you have just flown-over. Ecozip has committed to revitalizing the woods, and thus they asked us to take care to stay on the paths so we would not be disturbing the vegetation/growth that they are putting in place. Some very respectable work.

Hiking through the woods (conservation work continues), we spotted a fantail bird!
The goal of Ecozip is to restore the land to how it had been 3–400 hundred years ago.

2. LUNCH

Others had signed on to do the full zip, lunch and wineries tour. That seems like a convenient option also. However, we were glad took a stroll around town. Read on!

SURROUNDINGS: Patio at Oyster Inn. View from there. Deli/Grocer’s in town.
EXPRESSIONs: Artist Sue Soo’s work on show, and sculptures
TASTE: New Waiheke Island ceramist out with her works at Veranda. The ceramist had just given birth to a baby recently, then soon after, her line of pottery — thea; postcard of the bean chairs; me lounging on super comfy bean chair and ottoman, which came home with me — sans beans.

After the Ecozip van dropped off the crew who signed up for the lunch + three winery tour package, it dropped the others of us in town at Oneroa. We also had the option to go back to the pier.

Do get lunch at Oneroa and have a walk around. I love this homeware shop by mother Mary (literally) and her two daughters called Veranda Waiheke Island. We had a lovely lunch at the Oyster Inn’s restaurant that served beautiful homestyle bread and an exceptional ginger mixer. You couldn’t beat dining on the patio with that view in the sun.

3. AFTERNOON

Post-stroll, we hopped onto a cab to take us to one of the wineries. All the mom forums and friends mention Mudbrick. To be true to my heart however, Cable Bay is IT. I repeat, CHECK OUT CABLE BAY. You’ll love it. It’s an expanse of rolling hills with beanbag chairs, and afar sits an island in the shape of the hat in The Little Prince. I could lounge there all day. A great place to hang out with friends or enjoy with your better half.

“Performance” towards the end.

We did see the muddy bricks tho. Our cab dropped us there. We checked it out, and decided that we wanted to go to Cable Bay. (And of course with shopping bags in tow, we wanted a work-out, ahem — not. Couldn’t find ourselves a cab, we walked from muddy bricks to Cable Bay.) Totally doable (say less than 20 mins?). On a sunny day through, best with a parasol. We tried hitch-hiking, and were met only with big smiles.

Cable Bay in reality, is Church Bay. The owners had planned to set up the winery at Cable Bay, and then later moved it next door to the current location at Church Bay. Since the branding and all was already done by then, they kept the Cable Bay name.

The pier from Cable Bay is a short 20 minute hike. Go down past their vineyard, and on the right, you’ll see a signpost marking a trail that gets you down to the pier.

Confession: we missed the signpost the first time round and walked into someone’s UNLOCKED!! home. A beautiful one; not a soul there. We wanted to ask for directions you see! I guess they were out enjoying the weather also. Luckily, we found our way back on the trail in time for the ferry we wanted to take. PHEW!

Bonus: Such satisfying coffee milks! Ahhhhh. Pick one up at the pier shop.


4. DINNER

Back in Auckland, if you’re looking for a lovely place for dinner, check out The Grill by Sean Connolly (it’s at Skycity where the street of restaurants are) We got oysters. First, one each to try. And OMG. It was so Oishii! So we’re like, “more pls.” We also got a cheese plate and a bottle to share. The Grill gets the really umami oysters from Waiheke — fresh, tasty, and at the right temperature. I wish I had more of them. The ones we tried on the island itself were hit/miss.

Hallelujah Oysters. @The Grill by Sean Connolly at Sky City

Convenient lodgings: We stayed at Rydges Hotel, which is near the centre of action, yet away from it. It’s conveniently located within walkable distance to the waterfront, sky tower, etc. Leaving from the hotel, they can pre-arrange a Discount Taxi (it’s a company name) for a flat NZ$40 to the airport.

So hope this helps. And have a great time!

p.s. We checked out Newmarket and walked about Queen’s Street on another day. Nothing out of the ordinary. Waiheke Island is definitely the way to go for something remarkable.