Waiheke Island; the gem of the Hauraki Gulf in Auckland harbour

- John Nielsen, For John Nielsen, luxury hospitality and tourism has been part of his life since he recalls. Having been fortunate to travel extensively during his childhood in Denmark, it was almost a natural choice for John to join the Scandinavian travel company, Spies Travels in 1983. This journey and a beginning of his career, took John to Madeira & Portugal, where he gained his love of luxury hotels. From there three years were spent studying in Switzerland, then to South Korea at Hotel Lotte, to Hong Kong with hotels including the Mandarin Oriental and Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, Hyatt Carlton Tower in London, Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur, Crown Towers in Melbourne and Grand Hyatt Melbourne. Throughout the years in senior management John developed a passion for wine and in 1998 co-founded Liquid Assets Wine Storage in Melbourne. In 2006 John joined Kiwi Collection as a Regional Director in Asia Pacific and today continues to consult as well as contribute to WOW Travel. John recently completed his Master of Business with an added Master Degree in Tourism. These days John is based in Melbourne with his family, working for the Australian PGA Links company as General Manager of Hospitality. The travel bug will forever stay and with family based across three continents, there is always a good excuse to seek out new destinations and new wines.

At a Cabernet Master Class in Melbourne one winemaker asked, during a blind tasting flight, how was wine number four? Rich, deep red, dry tannins, classic Bordeaux, maybe even Saint-Emilion, said the French winemaker. The master of ceremonies then read aloud from a Jancis Robinson book “how on the island of Waiheke in Auckland winemakers were producing the closest example of classic Bordeaux style worldwide”…the bottle was shown and proved to be a Goldwater Cabernet from, yes…. Waiheke Island.

Ever since then I have always had this dream of visiting the island. My dream came true recently. As I sat on the ferry I looked out at the many pleasure boats sailing, I was stunned at the sheer the beauty of Auckland harbor. Just 35 minutes later we arrived into the picturesque bay. Waiheke’s rolling hills and small bays greeted us and the atmosphere suddenly all seemed very relaxed, I felt like I million miles away in pace and beauty.

Staying at the luxurious Boatshed Island Hotel was such a pleasurable part of my visit to Waiheke, which is located above a sun-drenched bay overlooking the spectacular seascape of Oneroa Bay.

The Island’s vineyards, olive groves and pastureland serves up a feast for any gourmet lover. A leisurely stroll around the bays and a long lunch in a vineyard is a perfect way to enjoy this beautiful island, that takes two hours to drive around, slowly. Looking around the island, it reminded me of the south of England, although slightly better wines…. small village settings each with it’s own character and wonderful gardens. An early morning walk along one of the many beaches is a wonderful way to begin the day, and a drive out to the historic Stony Batter that houses three WW2 9.2 inch battle guns, offers you a chance to see most of the green island.

As the ferry departed, clear Pacific waters surround us, this is the ultimate destination to escape from the rush of Auckland – and try some Cabernet.

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