Waiheke Island, New Zealand – January 23, 2016
It was Saturday, so we woke up at a reasonable hour and had a leisurely breakfast at our hotel. Then we walked down Albert Street to the ferry terminal. We could tell it was going to be a glorious day. The sky was a deep blue, and there were very few clouds around. The temperature was just right to make t-shirts the comfortable style choice.
The previous evening I purchased ferry tickets over the internet for one of the Fuller ferries to Waiheke Island. When we arrived at the dock to catch our particular ferry, since we already had tickets, we grabbed a cup of coffee, sat near the boarding gate, and waited for our boat to arrive.
When we boarded, we sat on a bench that was on the bow of the boat. We had a view of all of the passengers as they boarded the vessel. It turned out to be an excellent seat. As we pulled away from the dock, we had an exceptional view of the Auckland Skyline from the Auckland Harbor.
The seas were very calm. The only disturbances seemed to be from other boats. During the one-hour trip, we saw several other ferries going both directions. One, in particular, was a ferry carrying vehicles. It appeared to have just two trucks on the deck. I do not recall ever seeing such a small boat.
We approached Waiheke Island from the west, entering Matiatia Bay. Moored in the bay were several small boats and yachts. Our captain skillfully brought us to the ferry terminal. One would think he must have done this at least once before.
Just outside the ferry terminal, we found a bus. We got on and rode into town, stopping at the roundabout at Oceanview Road and Oue Road. We walked from the bus stop up the hill, shopping as we went. The last shop at which we stopped was a second-hand and antique store. It looked less like a thoughtfully merchandised shop and more like a hoarder’s shipping container. As it ended up, that description was not far off the mark. The woman that owned the shop told us she had recently returned from France with a shipping container full of antiques.
As the owner and Leslie talked, I spotted an antique broach. The broach was greenstone with a small silver kiwi in the center. Greenstone is a type of jade typically found on the South Island of New Zealand. The shop owner told us it dates from 1840 or 1850. Because of the kiwi, I had to have it. Leslie immediately fell in love with the broach. I bought something for myself too; a $15 second-hand Hawaiian shirt. I think Leslie got the better deal. Preparing to leave the shop with our purchases, the owner told us we had to eat lunch at Casita Miro.
We walked back downhill, looking at a few other shops. We stopped at an area where we could see Oneroa Bay. It was beautiful. We both decided we should travel to Auckland again and then plan to spend a long weekend at Oneroa Bay.
There was a tourist information shop nearby. Of course, we bought a magnet for the refrigerator. We also noticed it was nearing lunchtime, so we asked one of the people there for directions to Casita Miro. She said we would need a taxi since it was seven or eight kilometers away. She was kind enough to call for a cab that arrived in about a minute.
Our driver took us along Sea View Road. The views were stunning. Casita Miro is a vineyard in a rural setting on Waiheke Island. When we arrived at the gravel driveway, it was about 11:25. There was a closed sign hanging near the restaurant. I got out of the taxi and asked if the restaurant was open. Luckily, it was just opening.
The young man behind the bar asked if we would like to taste some wine. He obviously did not know with whom he was speaking. We quickly took him up on his offer. We found out later that he was the owner’s son.
The restaurant building had a Mediterranean look. It was glass on three sides. We could see there was a stairway on the uphill side, leading to a lookout area. The stairway wall had a tile mosaic in the style of the Spanish artist, Joan Miro. The visual was quite striking. At the top of the stairs was The Bond Bar. We sat down at a table overlooking the vineyards and Onetangi Bay. Fortunately, this blog comes with photographs because I do not think I can adequately describe the beauty. We sat there for a while and soaked in the vista…and wine.
Soon we saw a man dressed in blue coveralls, boots, and a pink cowboy hat come strolling up the hill. After striking up a conversation, we discovered he was the owner of the vineyard, Mr. Bond. We talked to him for ten or fifteen minutes. We told him how much we liked his Sauvignon Blanc. We asked if we could buy some to take with us. Oddly, he answered that question with another question. He asked when we were going to drink the wine. We told him we planned to have it at the hotel in Auckland that very evening. He said he usually does not sell it for takeaway because he does not use preservatives. He only makes that particular style for use at the restaurant. Since we were going to drink it within several hours, he said he would sell some.
We finished our wine and walked back down to the restaurant to take our table. We ordered two starters. One was goat cheese croquetas with honey. The other was patatas bravas that we had not had since we lived in Spain. They were both exquisite. Then we shared a paella of saffron bomba rice with pan-roasted market fish, sea kelp, lemon, and mussels. Our dessert was beyond amazing. We had a torta that was honey-almond, served with vanilla ice cream and summer berries. While we ate, Mr. Bond stopped by a couple of times. We felt like we were extraordinary people.
After our killer lunch at Casita Miro, we sat outside on a bench while we waited for our taxi. As it happened, the same driver picked us up. She took us directly back to the ferry terminal. Once there, we only had to wait five minutes or so for our return ferry.
The voyage back to Auckland was just as beautiful as our voyage to Waiheke Island. The photographs demonstrate what I mean.