New Zealand trip – sneak peek

We came home from our New Zealand trip on Saturday evening. For those who weren’t following along on Twitter and/or Facebook, we flew Air New Zealand and spent 4 nights in Auckland and 3 nights on beautiful Waiheke Island, which is 40 minutes by ferry from Auckland. We had a wonderful time. I’ll be editing the photographs and writing the posts for a New Zealand blog series as quickly as I can – but for now, here are some of the highlights.

On our first day, I’d booked us a food tour of Auckland with The Big Foody. The fun started with a visit to Parnell Farmers Market and concluded with lunch at Auckland Fish Market, with food and wine tastings in between.

Smoked fish at Parnell Farmers Market

On our first night in Auckland, we went for a wander around the city and stumbled on Elliott Stables, a very cool restaurant village. We had tapas for dinner at El Faro, which included this very plump and tender stuffed calamari, which we painstakingly de-skewered and sliced into two.

Stuffed calamari, El Faro, Auckland

New Zealand ice cream is famous and we were keen to eat some on this trip. We sampled the award-winning salted caramel gelato at Takapuna Beach Cafe and got takeaway gelato to eat by the beach. We ate ice cream (including New Zealand’s most popular flavour, hokey pokey) and sampled cheeses at the Kapiti Store on Shortland Street – Jac chose the eye-catching Black Doris plum and creme fraiche ice cream. We returned to the store on our last day in Auckland and bought several cheeses to take home.

Black Doris plum and creme fraiche ice cream, Kapiti Store, Auckland

We had lunch at Food Alley, a fantastic Asian food court. It reminded me of Spencer Village at home – I’m so envious of the city workers who can eat lunch here every day.

Food Alley, Auckland

Apart from a little rain on our first morning in Auckland, we enjoyed excellent weather, with fine days, very light winds and no need to wear a jacket. We walked to Wynyard Quarter and checked out Karanga Plaza and North Wharf. Jac watched boats to her heart’s content.

Auckland on the water

We had afternoon tea at The Langham in Auckland, a very civilised affair which began with a glass of Louis Roederer Brut NV Champagne for Jac, pots of leaf tea we selected from an extensive list, and these delectable morsels: savoury cones with salmon rillettes, creme fraiche, keta and dill.

Savoury cone with salmon rillettes, creme fraiche, keta and dill, afternoon tea at The Langham, Auckland

On our last night in Auckland, we designed own informal and inpromptu progressive dinner. One of our stops was at the legendary White Lady bus parked on the corner of Fort and Commerce Streets, where we shared a cheeseburger better than any I’ve eaten from a fast food chain.

Burger up at White Lady

On Waiheke Island, we stayed in a holiday apartment up on a hill with this gorgeous view from the balcony.

View from our holiday apartment on Waiheke Island, New Zealand

We had dinner at The Oyster Inn on our first night on Waiheke Island, where Jac devoured Stewart Island oysters, the slimiest monsters I’ve seen yet. Yes, she loved them! We shared Fish Inn Chips and the magnificent Very Green Salad. Yes, that’s me singing the praises of a green salad. I’ll tell you more about it soon.

Fish Inn Chips and A Very Green Salad, The Oyster Inn, Waiheke Island

On our second day on Waiheke Island, I’d booked us a private tour around the island with Christine from See Waiheke Tours. She took us to lovely bays and coves, wineries and a few stops around the island I’d specially requested. We enjoyed a personal tour and wine tasting with winemaker Daniel Struckman at one of Waiheke’s newest wineries Batch Winery.

Checking out the vineyard with Batch winemaker Daniel

We had lunch at Cable Bay Vineyards, where I had a spectacular scallop entree and a main course of Southland lamb, carrots, date, wheat and sheep's yoghurt, pictured at the top of this post. We brought a couple of bottles of Waiheke Island wine back to Australia with us, which, in these days of no non-duty-free carry-on liquids above 100ml, created an interesting exercise in packing. And everywhere we went on Waiheke Island, we were struck by the stunning views.

Cable Bay Vineyards, Waiheke Island, New Zealand

Whether we were in Auckland or Waiheke, if there were oysters on the menu, Jac ordered them. At Wild on Waiheke, she had a drunken oyster, a locally grown Te Matuku Bay oyster which she slid into her glass of Waiheke Island Brewery Onetangi Dark Ale, where it lurked at the bottom waiting to be slurped up. Oyster haters, let’s shudder together!

The 'drunkening' of a Te Matuku Bay oyster

These were just some of our adventures… stay tuned for more images, stories, thoughts and details.

Update: New Zealand trip – blog series

There’s more to come from our trip.
Posted so far (in reading order):

This trip to New Zealand was planned by Jac and me. We paid for all meals, accommodation and activities; the exception was 1 x return premium economy flight Perth to Auckland, which I received at an Air New Zealand launch event last year.Everything I blog about the trip is based on our experiences and all opinions are our own.

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  • Gourmanda

    How cool are those savoury cones?

    I’m heading to NZ in August, but South Island, not North. I hope I find as delicious fare as you clearly did!

    • They were very tasty! I could’ve eaten several more. :) I’m sure you’ll find plenty of good eats on South Island. I just wish we could’ve been in NZ for longer and covered more ground (and eaten lots more food). Oh well, next time.

  • Craig Hind

    Oh yes. It all, bar one item, looks so good. I love the fish & chips and the calamari. That’s my meal thanks.

    And the one item. Indeed there was a shudder, and another… And another. hhhhh, uuuuuhhh. :-)

    • Heheheh, you capture the shudder well. So well that I am also shuddering again!

      • Craig Hind

        hehe!

  • Caro Hind

    We went to Eveleigh Market here in Sydney at the weekend, and one of the stalls we bought from was being “manned” by a lady wearing a Waiheke t-shirt, so I had a chat to her about the island as I was still remembering the amazing photo you posted on Facebook. It sounds like a wonderful place.
    Your photos are beautiful, how lovely do those hills behind the vines look? They almost appear to be lying in gentle folds, like a big towel or something. :-) I’m loving the look of the whole post in your new look blog too, it all looks great together.

    • Thanks, Caro. Waiheke Island was fantastic. They’ve been in drought over there and locals kept pointing out brown patches in the hills which would normally be green, but it was absolutely beautiful regardless, like something out of a painting or storybook illustration. If I could do it all over again with no worries about work/other commitments, I’d stay a couple of weeks in Auckland and a couple of weeks on Waiheke. There was lots to eat and lots to photograph, and also lovely to just soak it all in… just being there was great, and everyone we met so friendly.

  • Dea

    Can’t wait to read your delicious NZ posts. It is such a gorgeous country and I am keen to visit Auckland, since I barely spent any time there when I visited NZ myself and travelled mostly through the South Island and flying to the North for Rotorua and to fly home from Auckland. So, I am really looking forward to catching a glimpse of what Auckland has to offer through your posts. It looks damn tasty so far!

    • I wish we could’ve spent more time in NZ. There were food places we’d have liked to check out but simply ran out of time. It was definitely a good intro to Auckland and we’ve been talking about another trip, next time hopefully for longer.

  • Jo

    This is breaking my heart! We’re proud Aucklanders now in Japan and I’m dying for Food Alley. Been going there since I was born and there’s nothing but Japanese food here… </3

    • Aw, sorry Jo! I would miss my favourite food halls terribly if I moved, so I can imagine your pain. I will apologise in advance as there will be a post featuring more images from Food Alley…

  • wizzy5@yahoo.com

    So great to hear that you went to my favourite Food Alley. Whenever I go back to visit my parents, I always have to have a meal from there. Mmmmmm havent had White Lady for such a long time. Their burgers are scrummy!

    • Elle from The Big Foody, who took us on a food tour on our very first day in Auckland, was the one who gave us the tip about Food Alley, and I’m so glad she did. We enjoyed the fancier restaurant meals as well of course, but Food Alley’s definitely our kind of food! Only wish we had more time so we could’ve gone back again. That White Lady burger tasted so fresh and delicious. And the guys in the bus taking the orders and cooking the burgers were so friendly.

      • wizzy5@yahoo.com

        MMmmmm drooling now remembering Food Alley food and it is getting to lunchtime here in the UK. Cant exactly nip out for a meal of noodles. Tastiest Pad Thai I have had so far comes from Food Alley. Did you have cheese with the White Lady burger because from memory they cook it on the hot plate till it is meltingly lovely and then add it to the burger! Scrummy!

  • Jon N

    What a tease! Can’t wait for more posts, especially about hokey pokey ice cream (I am curious about the taste!). The burger sounds tantalizing and I think choking down an oyster at the end of a pint might be the only way I could handle it.

  • Oooh, I just had that Black Doris plum + creme fraiche gelato 3 days ago – what an awesome photo! The lemongrass + ginger is superb too. Looks like my kind of trip!