On the 22nd March we returned to Auckland to spend a couple of nights before we started on our kiwi experience (‘kiwi ex’) bus trip down the north island. We were staying in Nomads because the kiwi experience guarantee you a night whenever they stop in a base or Nomads of their choice. It was actually really lucky we did because Adele was playing the second night we were there so prices in the hostel skyrocketed – because we were booking through kiwi ex we got a discount price!
A bar near by was giving out free drinks and pizza so we headed to that with an American guy from New York called James who was in our room. It turned out you had to take part in games like limbo to get the free pizza so we obliged and had the couple of free drinks on offer too. What was just a way of getting a free turned into us staying out until 1, having 5 pints each and heading to an Irish bar with a very good live band on called Danny Doolans. It was a good night and our first in New Zealand.
Our only full day before we headed off to see the rest of the north island was spent on Waiheke Island. We bought a hop-on-hop-off bus pass with our ferry ticket which, we soon found out, was essential if you wanted to get around the island (or at least some form of transport is needed).
Waiheke is a huge wine region so it wouldn’t have been a successful trip to the island without trying some of their wines. We started our day by going to a winery called Wild on Waiheke which did tasters and also did archery and clay pigeon shooting (we didn’t take part in the activities as they cost more money). We got a 6 glass tasting tray between us and tried 3 whites (Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot and Chardonnay), 1 rosé and 2 reds (Wildling and Syrah). My favourite was the Sauvignon Blanc and Niall’s was either the Pinot or the Chardonnay (we weren’t a fan on the reds!)
We then played giant connect-4 (I won) and a few games of petanque which is a bit like bowls (Niall won those games).
From there we went to Onetangi which is the largest beach on the island at 2km long. When we first got the ferry to the island it was quite cloudy but as the day went on the sun was shining and it was quite a nice temperature (never hot like Aus mind) whilst we were walking along the beach. It was really nice to just chill on the beach looking out to sea in the sun.
The hop-on-hop-off bus was a good way to see the island as it followed a route with certain stops so you could see most of the island but it also gave a commentary so that you knew a bit more about the island and the vineyards – even if it was to just know if somewhere was worth getting off. For instance, the commentator on our bus told us that Waiheke provides all the horses for the films needing them in NZ including the Lord of the Rings films. We went to a little town/area called Surfdale which was named through a raffle and the person who selected the winning name won a house in the area! Apparently the name was entered as a bit of a joke because the beach there gets no surf at all!
We got off the bus at the highest point on the so that we could see some good views of the Auckland skyline and of the island before walking into their town centre. We passed a lot more wineries (it was getting to closing time for many of them so we didn’t go in) and, in town, we got some lovely views of their coastline.
We then had to walk back to the ferry which took a little while but the weather had just got nicer and nicer as the day had gone on so we didn’t mind the walk at all.
We had a really good day exploring Waiheke Island and I would recommend it to anyone who has a day spare whilst in Auckland.
Sending Love x