Overlooking the charming area and suburbs of Devonport it Mt Victoria. Set up as a battalion base in the wars it now serves as one of the best, unadulterated views of Auckland.
The Signalman’s House is on the way up and truly breath taking. For it’s colonial style, it’s obvious connection to yesterday and it’s current purpose of offering writers a retreat. Being a writer I am totally in-love with the idea of a haven. A place to write whilst being frivolous and overlooking the harbour.
You can’t drive all the way to the summit any more but you can walk, hike or stroll. Ie foot is the only way. Up the top you will be greeted by sweeping views to the east, north and west. To the south you have iconic views of Auckland although you need to veer past a few trees.
You can have a picnic on the old forts, while watching the clouds jump and jive overhead.
Or you can share a chit chat with an old mate reminencising over times of old … waxing lyrically about childhood while your feet dangle over the edge of the old fortress.
Exploring is lot of fun which is what makes this the perfect afternoon trip for a family or lovers or solo travellers.
2. Visit the Devonport library
Well blow me down, I have visited many libraries around the world but this library is amazing.
Aside from being an architectural designer master piece it offers peace.
Peace and an open air outlook over one of the most amazing bays in the world.
It’s inspiring and has all the literature greats at your finger tips… all for free… waiting to be indulged.
I whittle away a few lustful moments reading the local rag and absorbing the view.
Whilst not a “tourist” attraction I sincerely hope you visit this space. Especially if you have never been to a library before!
3. Walk along the foreshore
This is one of the oldest, loveliest foreshore walks in New Zealand.
Beautiful trees, spaces, play grounds, picnic areas and Elizabeth House, make this a beautiful lazy afternoon walk.
Grab a photo with your family – a real keep-stakes as the back ground of the azure waters of the harbour and the sky line of Auckland subside away. Truly beautiful.
4. Lunch at the Esplanade Hotel
The Esplanade Hotel is such an iconic landmark. Built in 1857 the interior is everything you would expect from a timeless building.
We rock up on a Sunday and have the bowl of mussels done in white wine garlic and cream. Yes you guessed it! Something I will travel back for again and again and again. Especially at the end of the pier if the ferry from Auckland. It the perfect romantic escape and boys… it has a fire side!
5.Visit an art gallery
Despite everyone assuming art is for the rich or eccentric art is an expression. There are many art galleries in davenport and all worth a Casual wander through. There are too many to name and in my personal (artist) opinion, sometimes it is better to waltz through art galleries than it is to visit one. See where your heart takes you.
It’s a typical Auckland winter’s spring day – cold, wind, rain, sun!
All the seasons every hour.
We head off to explore west of Auckland and the local wineries.
There is a lot to see and some really good wines, some lovely experiences, including the historic The Riverhead and the west coast of NZ.
The Riverhead is a restaurant location dating back to the 1850s.
Beautifully preserved it buildings and location offer a warm vibe.
The pub is great for a NZ wine, craft beer and game of pool. A fire side welcomes everyone, the staff are friendly and their is plenty of space and low noise so you can chat. You can sit outside with their warm heaters in winter so many options.
The restaurant has a very good reputation but we felt it feel a little short of it’s price and reputation. The staff weren’t the best and the food whilst restaurant standard wasn’t abundant. We gave it a 4/5.
I lovely little winery near Kumea. Worth a stop over and as the lady says their “chardonnay is the stilettos of wines”.
Hunting Lodge winery
I really like this winery – open, classy and two price levels of wines. Really good food and friendly staff. I highly rate Hunting Lodge.
The wines are great and there are two eating options – casual (perfect for families and kids) or the five star restaurant.
This is an absolute must. Only 45 minutes from Auckland the coastline is radically different to the east coast.
Wild and rough and some how exhilarating. The sand is speculedwith dark ebony sand and cobalt blue. I haven’t seen anything like it anywhere else in the world. It’s an artists haven.
Follow the beach around the cliff and you will discover something really amazing. It is a gull colony and it truly breath taking. While watching birds navigate their landings, I felt like I was in a David Attenborough show. Amazing.
Perched about 20 minutes via car from the ferry at Waiheke is Stonyridge Vineyard. It is a magnificent looking vineyard and in summer boasts a vine wrapping all around the main building. It reminds me of a vineyard I once visited in Corsica.
I have been here before so going back was for the wine and ambiance.
What we discovered is that most vineyards on Waiheke charge (what I would call, a small fortune) to do a taste sampling. Some charge $10 for 3, others $15 for 3 premium. Guard your wallet because whilst they are guarding their cellar door so you don’t drink down their vats for free, you will be paying quite a lot more for the privilege of drinking a Waiheke grown wine.
On this day we are very fortunate to have Nathan as our bar tasting man. Entertaining and a whizz at wines we learn a lot about the local wines as well as New Zealand wines.
The wines here, like everywhere else on Waiheke, are expensive. But you have to expect it… don’t be surprised.
After sampling some wines we settle on a nice crisp Riesling and venture into the restaurant for lunch. In summer the outdoor area pumps. It’s referred to as the yoga deck which is kinda suitable as it has views spanning over the vineyard and to be honest I don’t know if they do yoga there or not, but it would be a perfect venue.
The restaurant is fine. Vineyard style, with a good menu but rich prices. We chose to share two entrees and a main.
Our entrees prawns and fish cerviche are good and our main is rib eye fillet, with mashed and jus.
We love our food so don’t want to put it down but it feel short somehow. As I type I feel bad writing. It was OK – to great but just not spectacular.
Obviously it is better than cafe food and a pub meal but when you pay $44 for steak I think one should expect 6 star.
I would give the experience this time 3.5/5. The food 4/10, the wine tasting with Nathan 5/5 but the service unfortunately only 3/5.
The kids have taken themselves off to explore and I am happily reading up about this lovely property.
The sparkling white is a delight!
Months ago I purchased one of those 50% off on-line deals for lunch here. The expiry date for the voucher long came and went but the winery still obliged and honoured the voucher. Feeling very grateful and happy today is lovely.
They normally have a lunch time special; 2 courses for $35 or 3 courses for $45. Accompanying the specials menu (yummy soup, pork belly, and calamari for entree today, Chicken rolled in proscioto/parmesan , barramundi or vegetarian rissotto) and delicious desserts.
If you like a wine or cocktail I think the tasting experiences are a must.
On the cruise I am doing there are a few days at sea which means forced rest and recouperation. I take this part of my life very seriously and aside from writing travel blogs, dipping in and out of the spa, I will always sign up for a few drinking experiences.
The wine tasting one is fantastic.
So often in life I feel wine is drunk not enjoyed. The wine tasting enables you to thoroughly enjoy the true experience of wine – the joi de vie, the elixir of the Gods. I love wine so slowing down to have some one walk me through each quality and aspect of the wine, the colour, the aroma, the palette and to tell me the story about the wine maker and his intent on creating the wine is like attending a liquid art gallery.
The ship often shares one or two high end bottles which are beautiful to enjoy. I highly rate the wine tasting, the random people you meet at your table and the funny staff.
A different liquid experience and equally as fun is the cocktail mixing hour. For a modest sum you can make 4 delicious cocktails , have some fun and consume them all!
I found it very enlightening and learned that you can infuse your own vodkas with anything from chillis, to fruit to chocolate eclairs! I also discovered that many cocktails made behind the bar include sugar syrup and explained many so called “hangovers” that hadn’t made sense in the past – now I know they were sugar crashes.
We made an expresso martini, a humming bird, a caprioska and a chocolate one….
I know from growing up in Hobart that the night scene is excellent.
Live bands, old fashioned pubs and clubs are in abundance.
Many pubs while looking a bit “uneventful” on the outside will be pumping on the inside. Let your teenage inquisitive self take control and explore.
These are a couple to try out… no doubt there are more that I haven’t been to in awhile.
Cargo has be the local go to for a beer or boogey for a few years now. I have had many a late night here with great music, vibes and drinks.
Next door to Cargo is Jack Greene an awesome bar done up how I would design my underground, bar at home! We went on Friday night and caught the tail end of a duet playing excellent 80s tracks that had people dancing and swaying.
The bar also offers great Tassie gins! Ask the staff for their recommendation and don’t stop at one… (NB The Usual clause of drink responsibly etc)
Wine and Grape
We headed here on Friday night and it is a younger scene but great fun and excellent for a dance. It goes late… Grape Bar is open until 2am Friday and Saturday nights and a fun place for a dance.
Republic Bar in North Hobart is well known for housing live bands. It has a large out door area with a big smokers area if you need. And inside a large dance space to let your inner teenager express itself on the dance floor.
Heading towards the other side of the wharf are a few quintessential bars and great meets and drinks places.
Built in … and restored a few moons ago, Customs is a wonderful pub where you can sit inside or outside under heat lamps. You can watch life go past with a locally brewed beer or delicious pinot noir. This is the go-to pub when the Sydney to Hobart is on. The food is also excellent. It is situated at the docks and the views of the Derwent River are great.
The Telegraph Hotel
This used to be the place to go to on a Friday night. Telegraph still is worth of including in a pub crawl around the water front.
The Lower House
This hidden bar is a newish addition to the Tassie pub scene being around for maybe 10 years. The Lower House is worth a sneaky peak on a Friday. Also a younger scene. It is the next block up from Custom’s House.
The Henry James in the old Jam Factory offers incredible Tassie wines and a wonderful ambience.
Tavern 42 degrees – great atmosphere and upstairs turns into a night club friday and Saturday.
You will find James and his boutique bar under Salamanca Galleria, in the walk way beside Retro Cafe, Salamanca. A definite must if you like wines. Oh and gins!
All in all, Hobart has some of the best wine bars in Australia, and a healthy, active night scene that has never wavered. The locals are friendly and there are plenty of live bands on around town. Venture out, even if the night is cold, and you will find your mood catered for!