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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