Wine is a Right of Passage


It’s the last day of our Waiheke Island tour and I’ve developed a great feel for the place, early morning jogs along the beach, sunset walks, exploring beach-side and inland vineyards to compare the difference in the wine, dining on some of the most amazing fare and explored the amazing chocolate shops and dessert bars of mainland Auckland.

It was time for the last vineyard of our short stay, and we were not disappointed. Passage Rock Vineyard is in the south of the island, near Orapiu Bay.

The Passage Rock vineyard
The Passage Rock vineyard

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Chocolate and Wine is all You Need

With a surprisingly light hangover from the day before (once we returned from Man O’War we could’t resist opening some of the wine we’d purchased to take home with us – self restraint is hard with wine so good!) we began the day watching the sunrise from the balcony with a hearty breakfast before hopping across on the ferry to Auckland, for chocolate hunting…

Some sound chocolate advice from my Auckland adventures
Some sound chocolate advice from my Auckland adventures

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A Vineyard by the Sea

Waiheke is one of those magical places that you think only exist in fairy tales, or the lives of super yacht owners. Luckily for Aucklanders, or anyone visiting Auckland, Waiheke is very easy to get to, only an hour’s ferry ride from Auckland harbour and at around NZ$20 one way that’s really not bad at all.

Slow down!
Slow down!

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Free-fall to Chocolate

Our time up North had sadly come to an end, and despite eating more than my fill of avocado and all manner of fish dishes – recipes can be found soon in the recipe section on this blog – it was now time to head South. I had a skydive session booked, chocolates to eat, more friends to meet and an Island of Wine to explore. Heading south we pass the Kaori store, featuring a staircase carved from a giant hollowed out Kaori tree!

Sitting in a tree

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Settlers of The Far North


Now for a little history of Northland. The nearest harbour to Ngataki – Houhora Harbour was home to whalers and Dalmatian Gum Diggers (no, not the dogs, but people from the balkan area now known as Croatia, but this is also where dalmatian dogs are from). The old Post Office and Dance Hall next to Houhora Tavern date back to these pioneering days when the Dalmatian Gum Diggers were digging their fortunes of kauri gum burried below the surface of surrounding areas such as Waiharara, where the Gum Diggers Park sits now.

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The Edge of the World

We’re off to the edge of the world, or Cape Reinga – basically the ‘Lands End’ of New Zealand. In Maori “Te-Rerenga-Wairua” means ‘the leaping-off place of spirits’. This is the place where two oceans – Tasman and Pacific visibly meet in a violent exchange of boiling water (obviously it’s not actually boiling, but it’s still pretty frothy and choppy!) The Maori see this as the ‘male’ sea ‘meeting’ the ‘female’ sea.

The two seas having a meeting
The two seas having a meeting – you can see the froth of the waves in the distance

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Fishing in The Far North

No more driving around! So we’re going to go fishing instead! Aside from fishing a large wild gold fish out of a village pond in Swindon in the heady uni days of 2005, this will be my first proper fishing trip…in the sea! Hopefully I’ll catch something bigger! Not quite sure how I feel about having to kill these beauties tho, that will be the hard bit. Continue reading “Fishing in The Far North”

Happy New Year – Happy New Chocolate

Happy New Year :)
Happy New Year 🙂


Having said our good bye to an awesome year and tided in an equally good one, with great company, it was now time to head north, even further north. Because of where Russell was situated, and the road we needed to reach, it was quickest to take the ferry back across (earlier on in the Coromandel we had decided dirt tracks were out of the question). A good tip off from our friends lead us to the most amazing chocolate shop and factory in Kerikeri – The Boutique Chocolate Factory, part of Makana Confections. This was essentially elevenses, having cooked an epic fry up storm for our hosts to try and cure our hangovers before we left. Continue reading “Happy New Year – Happy New Chocolate”

Hell Hole of the Pacific


Next morning, after a much-needed lie-in, we were off on a (very bumpy) ferry ride to Urupukapuka Island. We were warned when we arrived on the island and before we left Russell that due to there being no natural predators or pests on the island could we please help keep the island pest-free by checking our bags for rats, mice, stoats and seeds before disembarking along the litchen covered weather worn pontoon to the shore.

looking over the pontoon
looking over the pontoon

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Road Trip to Russell

After a restful sleep in Tokoroa we were up at the crack of dawn, with the dew still fresh on the grass and a long drive ahead of us, we said our goodbyes and hit the road, to make a quick pit stop to fill up on gas, pies and coffee before the long journey ahead. It’s worth noting that here in New Zealand, service station pies (and coffee) are an art form, nothing like the ‘Wild Bean’ cafe’s you get at service stations in the UK with watery coffee and soggy pies, no, these pies are like gourmet pies and the coffee even features latte art!

Truly. Amazing. PIES!
Truly. Amazing. PIES!

Continue reading “Road Trip to Russell”

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