(Location: Auckland, New Zealand)
In April of 2014, Good Friday, Easter Monday, and Anzac Day lined up nicely, meaning one could take three vacation days and get 10 days off in a row. This phenomena comes few and far between, so we took advantage of the time and headed to New Zealand. Because this was primarily a research trip to see the most of the country an determine where we want to revisit for longer stays, we rented a campervan and hit the road.
Day 1: Getting There
From Melbourne, we flew three hours (1630m/2623k) east (towards the US) to Auckland, New Zealand. This was our first time on Air New Zealand, and I was a little disturbed by the in flight safety video. You be the judge.
There was actually lots that was confusing on that flight. For example, the steward uniform included a patchwork vest with (I think) New Zealand things. A kiwi – sure. A quote that says “blow on the pie” – no idea.
It took a long time to get through immigration and customs. Even longer than when arriving into Australia. Customs was very concerned with checking people’s shoes (for grass, dirt, and other natural materials).
We eventually arrived at the Hilton, which is right on the harbor in Auckland.
Day 2: Waiheke Island
Because Friday was a holiday, we had a day to kill until picking up the campervan. We took the ferry 35 minutes east to Waiheke Island. This is one of our newest favorite places on the planet. We pre-arranged to take a wine tour with Ananda Tours, whom we found via Trip Advisor. We were paired with another couple (from Washington, D.C.) and visited three wineries:
- Stoneyridge – Bordeaux style reds, great outdoor setting, lovely view.
- Te Wahu – Pronounced “tuh pho” – W’s are F’s in Maori. JAW DROPPING view. Vineyard cat. Picked up a few bottles for the rest of the week. Did not want to leave.
- Batch – Tasted fermenting sparkling riesling
- Mudbrick – Good thing we didn’t start here or I would spent the whole day. Wonderful wine. Perfect view. Lovely gardens. Yummy ploughman’s platter. A perfect end to the day.
Next stop: we pick up a camper van and head south…