|New Zealand, Waiheke Island, view from Man O'War Vineyards|
Part 2: New Zealand’s North Island Beaches and Lakes
Auckland’s Waiheke’s Island
We opted to spend our only Auckland full day taking a 40-minute ferry over to Waiheke Island, renting a car, and touring the Island’s wineries. As scary as the narrow, twisty roads were for my jet-lagged husband to navigate and test his left-side driving skills, it felt safer than renting an e-bike or moped, more pleasant than being stuffed into a wine touring van, and more flexible than the public bus. Plus, we would be driving the next two weeks so it was good practice!
After a quick 20-minute walk through the small town of Oneroa, we arrived just in time for the morning start at Kennedy Point Winery, a small, organic winery with its beautiful ocean views and enjoyable Sauvignon Blanc, Red Trumpet Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend, and olive oils. Next stop was the famous Mudbricks Restaurant and Vineyard where I had made lunch reservations. Our vegetarian/seafood lunch did not disappoint on this perfect weather day, sitting on the patio overlooking the distant water.
We decided to venture to the other side of the Island for our afternoon. The paved roads turned to gravel and by the time we arrived to Man O’ War Vineyards, we were ready for an afternoon nap so we opted to sit on the porch with a view of the beautiful blue bay and consume coffee rather than wine. With the jet lag catching up, we headed back to the ferry so we could rest up before our evening dinner with our new Kiwi friends.
We knew we wanted some beach time early in the trip, and the North Island beaches are much warmer than the South Island beaches, although still not “warm” in early summer just like our U.S. northern East Coast beaches. This was the first trip planning dilemma – do we go North of Auckland, spend time in the Coromandel Peninsula east of Auckland, or drive south down along the East coast? We opted for the latter, figuring we could see multiple spots along the way and then go inland to the heart of Maori culture and lakes.
|White Island, view from Moto Dunes|
North Island Lakes
I had debated if we should stay in popular Rotorua or Taupo, and decided on Taupo after finding an AirBandB with stunning lake views and determining we could stop in Rotorua on our way to Taupo. There are a number of Maori cultural attractions in Rotorua. I would have liked to visit the Rotorua Museum, but it is currently closed for earthquake renovations. The Maori dinner shows sounded like a Hawaiian luau, which was fun to experience once, but we felt like “we had been there, done that” so we passed. After lunch, we did stop in the Redwoods – Whakarewarewa Forest ten minutes from town. This is well worth a walk in the woods, with multiple walking and hiking trails and a fun-looking treetop walk, which we considered, but it was overrun with kids. We decided to take the free admission low road, which provided a beautiful walk in the woods amongst the giant redwoods and ferns.
|Our Air BandB at Taupo|
|Mount Tauhara hike|
For more information about New Zealand’s amazing Great Rides cycling initiative and an in depth look at all of our New Zealand biking adventures, visit my “Great Riding” articles on my Swim Bike Run Survive blog.
Our North Island accommodations included:
Auckland - 2 nights in a 31st floor apartmentTaupo – 2 nights in a bach (cottage) with stunning lake views