Auckland

Arriving in New Zealand takes a bit of time, the country is very concerned about visitors bringing in natural products which might contaminate their environment. You have to throw out any food that you are carrying and declare any items such as walking shoes that have been used outdoors so that they can be checked. After we had got through this process though, everything was really straightforward. We got the airport link bus to the city and got off at a stop just opposite our hotel. We were pretty lucky with this, because shortly afterwards the street was closed to traffic for the triathlon event that was going on that weekend.

Once we’d settled in, we walked into the city centre and met up with our friends Dan and Emma who have been living in Auckland for a while and who were fantastic tour guides for us while we were there. They took us for pizza and New Zealand Sav (easier to say the Sauvignon Blanc!) at Tyler Street Garage.

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On Saturday we all went to the Sky tower and watched Dan do the jump from the top. From the observation deck you can see the whole of Auckland, the harbour and the nearby islands. After that, we took the bus to Mission Bay beach and had a lovely walk, followed by some mini lamb burgers and bruschetta at the Attic. Our final stop for the day was a restaurant called Moo Chow Chow where we had some amazing Thai-inspired food to share: crispy duck rolls, salmon salad, and two different curries, one beef and one lamb.

Sunday was very wet, so we took the opportunity to do some laundry and also to watch some of the triathletes as they came past. Dan and Emma chose the Botswana Butchery for dinner, which was absolutely brilliant food! I had Crispy Squid, Lamb Rump with Lambs Fry (liver), and Dark Chocolate Fondant – yummy!

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Monday was a much brighter day and Emma had booked us all onto a wine tour on Waiheke island. We took the Ferry from Auckland and were picked up when we got to Waiheke by Wayne, who was our guide for the day. We started out at Jurassic Ridge winery where we had a great tasting, starting with whites, moving to rosé and ending up with some beautiful reds. Slightly worse for wear, we were ferried over to Kennedy Point where we got to taste some more wine and were taken out to see the vines and the fermentation tanks. Our final winery was Peacock Sky, which was my favourite tasting as they paired each of the wines that you taste with a little nibble of food. You taste the wine on its own, then have the food, then taste the wine again to see how the food has affected it. It was a brilliant idea!

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We bought a bottle of bubbles which is labelled ‘method traditionelle’ as its made in the traditional champagne style but not from Champagne, hopefully we’ll be able to save this for Christmas. We also had lunch here, the food was beautiful and included in our tour price which was a nice surprise. The menu options were all named after dogs and Andrew and I shared a chihuahua and a bulldog (burrito and burger). The final part of our visit was a muddy little trek up through the bush to the vineyards, after which we were taken back to the Ferry to return to Auckland.

All in all we ate and drank like kings while we were in Auckland and thoroughly enjoyed our time in the city. It really helped having local guides and we loved seeing all of the parts of the place that they enjoy.

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