Happily there is ferry service directly from Devonport to Waiheke Island, so on this Thursday morning with a weather forecast of mostly sunny skies with a high of 21C (70 F) we head to the dock for the 9:10.
We have decided to focus our visit on the island scenery and wineries... with a small dash of hiking and beaches thrown in. Our day passes on the public bus system is our form of transportation. The public bus follows basically the same route with the same frequency as the Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus, and is $10 per person for the day instead of $45. Plus (or maybe minus - you never know) we may meet some local people from the island.
Our first stop after the ferry drops us off is Oneroa Beach Club for brunch. The restaurant is on the main street across from the beach. After a good meal we catch the #1 Bus and take it to the end, Onetangi Beach. According to the map it is close to two wineries/vineyards. The ride takes 30 minutes and winds the length of the western half of the island. The bus is mainly tourists and the bus driver is very helpful in announcing the stops of key interest.
Sure enough, we find the approximately 120 steps which take us up to Seaview Road. From there we pull out google maps which shows the winery I am most interested in to be to the right for approximately a 15 minute walk. A scenic (though more than 15 minute) walk delivers us to Obsidian Winery.
The bus drops us off at the long driveway to Stoneridge, our second winery. It is one of four wineries in a row, similar to the feel of Napa many wineries are adjacent to each other. What a difference from Obsidian! Their winery is oriented toward tourists, no doubt aided by their cafe. They do not offer the typical tastings with sommeliers discussing the wine. Instead you read the wine notes, decide if you want a tasting, glass or bottle of their different wines, order at a counter, pay, then find a place to sit on the patio or lawn to enjoy. The wines have varied prices. We share tastings of three wines ($3, $6, $8). The first two we consider OK, while the third is very good. However, I'm not really interested in buying a bottle at $120!
We return to Devonport happy with our tasting of Waiheke Island arts, beaches, hiking and wines.