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That Waiheke Island in Auckland is one of the world’s top island destinations is no secret. Its pristine beaches and forests, fabulous wine and food and glorious weather entice many thousands of national and international visitors to its shores every summer.
But for those in the know, Waiheke is perhaps even better to visit in winter.
The ferries, wineries and restaurants are much less crowded. It is easier to get here, and easier to get into the restaurant of your choice.
All the best restaurants on the island, including Mudbrick, Stonyridge, Cable Bay, Fenice and Oyster Inn, have open fires. What could be cosier than sitting by the fire, sipping a warming Bordeaux-style red or Syrah (the Island's specialty), while you study the special winter menu created by the chef?
Wine-lovers, please note that a barrel tasting with the winemaker or a senior staff member is more readily available during the winter months when staff are not so busy.
And the oysters grown in Te Matuku Bay are at their best in winter: big, fat and succulent.
If wine and food are not your thing, there’s still heaps to do. Go for a walk on the beach or along a scenic trail, and have the place pretty much to yourself. Visit some of the fine artists whose studios are open all year round. See the abundance of birds in the bush and on the shorelines. Enjoy a really good coffee at one of the many cafés in Oneroa, Ostend and Onetangi.
Tour groups are smaller, so your guides can offer a more personalised service. Accommodation is less expensive, so you could come for a weekend and spend the money you save on wining and dining.
Finally, here’s another little-known fact: Waiheke enjoys its own micro-climate, which is often several degrees warmer than Auckland. And there are lots of calm, sunny, blue-skied days, even in the coldest months of the year.
See the best of Waiheke on a winter’s day with Ananda Tours, the Island’s most established tour company, with a team of entertaining and knowledgeable guides.
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