Megan Singleton quaffs wine at five of Waiheke Island's best vineyards.
In the last couple of years Cable Bay has undergone a transformation. The white cloths are still thrown over tables in the restaurant but it's the outdoor lounge they've created in a sunken garden under a huge canopy, the bean bags strewn across the lawn lapping up views of the city, the hip music on an afternoon, and the new pizza oven that's got me.
Just a two-minute helicopter jump over the trees (I actually saw someone travelling like this last weekend) is the Italian-inspired, rustic Mudbrick. The perfectly manicured gardens are stunning, and again you can eat and drink inside at the fancy tables, or sit under one of the umbrellas in front of the tasting room for a sip, and swoon at the trimmed hedgerows.
3. Man O' War
It's a hike to get to (about half an hour on a dirt road) across the island, or you could arrive by boat, to enjoy one of their famous platters. There is limited indoor seating, but a large marquee with roll-down wind shelters makes for the best of both worlds, right on the beach and without the wind. There are several picnic tables dotted on the lawn, kids playing cricket, and those platters...
The drive along the peninsular to Te Whau is so impressive it's worth coming here just for a quick tasting. You can see Kennedy Pt across vines draped in white nets from one side and Auckland's far eastern beaches stretching all the way to the city from the other.
A casual winery with outdoor seating virtually among the vines. The woodfired pizza oven spits out the best pizzas on the island, according to the New York Times, and their syrah has won 18 awards since 2004. This is a great winery to visit if the kids are in tow, meal sizes are generous and the trampoline, sandpit and bikes will keep them amused while you taste.