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New Zealand in a campervan – Wine tasting on Waiheke Island

Two hours ahead, ten years behind. This is what the Aussies say about New Zealand which seems a bit harsh to be honest. Or perhaps it is a compliment as a lot of Australians seem to come here for a holiday.

And then there is Waiheke. Wind back a few more decades and that is the time zone on this island.

Apart from meeting a complete stranger in Auckland, who kindly offered to spend a day with us on the basis that we were friends of a friend, we had no other plans for Auckland. We don’t do plans. And so we got to go to Waiheke Island with Alison and her friend Bianca.

A short ferry ride away, Waiheke Island is where time stood still. With the the campervan safely parked up in auckland, we picked up a hire car on arrival. The car, verging on vintage, had a proper walnut dashboard and an on board tv. I thought it could have been a car of an ex ambassador and would have been chauffeur driven in its time. Bouncy leather seats, made for an interesting ride as most of the roads on Waiheke are un made.

I don’t know who the car hire company and cannot find any trace of them on the internet, but they were literally next to where the ferry disembarked. And all the cars were ancient, yet now it seems you can only hire shiny new cars.

We got provisions for a picnic lunch at a small shop just as we left the port.

And stopped at a beach location to eat.

Alison, our designated driver, gave us the tour of the island, and we visited a number of vineyards. The ones located at the west of the island are pretty much set up for tourist bus visits.  First stop was Wild On Waiheke home to both a vineyard and a brewery.

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We could go miles and not see another vehicle once we headed east.

My favourite vineyard, and the only one that we bought wine from, was Man O’War Vineyards.

In November 2011 they were in the process of finishing the new building that now houses the tasting room.

When we visited this was their tasting room.


The beach front location with views over to the Coromandel is second to none.

And the wine was pretty good too.

As were the views on the drive to get here.

Once again, one of our best experiences in New Zealand was down to going with the flow. Having no plans and taking chances on meeting and trusting in strangers works for me.


You will have to forgive me if my post is sketchy. I made no notes, it was over four years ago so I am relying on memory and photographs. I am blogging about it because it was a really amazing day out of Auckland and I would urge you to go if you can. I have added a number of links so that you can find out more about the island and what to do.

What has surprised me is this.

It is New Zealand’s most densely populated island, with 93 people/km², and the third most populated after the North and South Islands.

The towns are small and you can go for miles without seeing a house especially in the east.  On our travels on both the North and South Islands we discovered that there are huge distances between towns and often you see reminders to fill up your tank as there isn’t another gas station for 1000km or so.

I may have exaggerated a bit there. Perhaps it is because I am British and live on a densely populated island, NZ seemed so underpopulated to me. And maybe that is why I like it, as well as it being (at least) 10 years behind.






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