winter in waiheke
Travelling with Aro has forced me to slow down and think carefully about what I want to do. As a couple, Rob and I had the freedom to be out all day and night for however long we wanted. We could eat anywhere and do anything. Now, travel has become a slow sensation rather than a high speed thrill. It's more about relishing the change of scene, rather than days of marathon touristy sightseeing. We spent a couple of days at Waiheke, a 45 minute ferry ride from Auckland. Here's a couple of tips from us to you.
We stayed at this AirBnB with views over beautiful Palm Beach and drop dead gorgeous sunrises. However, it was freezing! We had the fire on and all the heaters going but I still slept under two duvets at night. Despite that, I was grateful for all the space, the beautiful morning light streaming through the floor to ceiling windows, the enormous kitchen, and so many bathrooms. We've travelled enough with Aro to know that we need to spend a little extra on accommodation which has at least 1 large bedroom and a kitchen we can prepare proper meals in. If the place provides a cot, even better!
Aro loves sunny days, playgrounds and the beach. Waiheke managed to deliver all three of these things while we were there. Little Oneroa Beach and Palm Beach both had great playgrounds with lots of seating and picnic tables. The setting is also stunning. We had a lovely time at beachcombing, poking around the rocks, and splashing along the foreshore.
I adored our visit to the Factory Ceramics workshop. We were greeted by a scruffy dog and a lovely older gentleman who invited us to take a look around the workshop then five minutes later told us that he didn't work there! We met the ceramicists, Peter and Kirsten, humble, smiley and down to earth. They didn't blink when Aro started to wander round the shop with all the beautiful, breakable things and we got to pet the two studio dogs for as long as we wanted.
Eat and Drink
The folks at Wai Kitchen were so lovely. They did so much to accommodate Aro, like putting up umbrellas so that the sun wasn't in his face, giving him paper cups, spare spoons and the tops of takeaway cups to play with, and smiling even when they saw the bombsite that was our table after we'd finished eating. They have high chairs, a kids menu, and great coffee. We also had the most delicious crepes, croissants, and coffee at Frenchot but I would only recommend this place for sunny days when you can sit in the courtyard. It was sort of damp and drippy when we went and they only have a poky back kitchen to sit inside and the atmosphere was just not on. Finally, you have to get so good at self-catering when travelling with a kid though so I was really grateful for the Island Grocer and the Te Matuku Bay Oysters because we were able to eat the delicious local food back at the accommodation. Not gonna lie though - we also made two trips to Countdown!
As for wineries, we managed to hit up two wineries we haven't been to before - Tantalus and Stonyridge. They're right next to each other but couldn't be worlds apart. Tantalus is high-end but has a long way to go before it competes with the behemoth that is Mudbrick. Stonyridge is down-to-earth, homely, a bit more ramshackle and welcoming. Aro had a great time chewing on the coloured pencils staff gave him, scaring the vineyard cat, and the big olive groves. The red wine is cheaper and more delicious at Stonyridge by the way!