It's been almost thirty years since I last visited Waiheke Island.
It's been almost thirty years since I last visited Waiheke Island. And I think we've both matured a little in the intervening years.
When I ventured over to Waiheke back in 1985 on my first ever backpacking adventure, the Island was considered to be a bit alternative - New Zealand's version of Byron Bay, if you will. My fondest memory of my visit was my introduction to the The Rocky Horror Picture Show with a special screening at the backpackers, complete with costumes and props.
These days, Waiheke is still a haven for artists with many beautiful galleries and craft boutiques to browse. But Waiheke offers so much more. You can enjoy a good coffee or a taste of New Zealand's fresh Pacific Rim cuisine at one of the many cafes or restaurants. Or if you are looking for more of a high than a good coffee will supply, you can try your hand on the flying fox zip lines. But what perked up my ears, and tastebuds, was the fact that there are more than a dozen high-quality vineyards on Waiheke where you can sample the fabulous local wines.
And, as we discovered, one of the best places to while away an afternoon on Waiheke Island, is at the Mudbrick Winery. Mudbrick is set amongst its vineyard and potager gardens with spectacular views over the Hauraki Gulf and back to Auckland city.
After a half hour tour of the vineyard and the stunning 360 degree views over the gulf, and a tasting of three of Mudbrick’s wines – the Pinot Gris was worth ordering a second glass, it was back to the Tasting Room for lunch. There are three dining options to choose from; a la carte in the restaurant, al fresco in the evening in the wine bar/bistro, or as we chose, lunch at the cellar door. With a choice of light lunches or two tasting platters, The Mudbrick Vineyard or Vegetarian – we found the decision too hard so chose both. Loaded with tasty morsels such as artichoke fritters with lemon aioli, New Zealand cheeses with home-made chutney, home-made bread and dips – many of the ingredients coming straight from the potager gardens.
It's difficult to imagine a more tranquil or relaxing way to spend an afternoon. Mudbrick Winery is an exceptional spot, and with Waiheke Island being an easily accessible 35-minute cruise by ferry, it should be on top of your list of places to visit when visiting Auckland.
To find out more about Mudbrick Winery and discover what's on offer, visit Mudbrick.co.nz.
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