Category Archives: Auckland

Auckland, New Zealand

Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island – Fullers Wine on Waiheke Tour

A must do day trip when staying in Auckland, New Zealand is to take the short 35 minute ferry trip out to the truly stunning Waiheke Island to visit its magnificent wineries and beautiful beaches. On our latest trip we were travelling without the kids so took full advantage to road test the Wine on Waiheke tour which is run by Fullers Cruises and Island Tours.

The tour includes wine tasting at three wineries, return ferry trip and an all day bus pass to travel around the island. Having the bus pass gives you the flexibility to go and explore a bit of the island either before or after the tour. Although the ferry that is recommended for our tour departed Auckland at 1.00pm, we decided to take an earlier ferry to grab a bite to eat and have a bit of a look around the island before our tour.

We had to meet our tour driver at the ferry terminal at 1.35pm where we jumped on board our mini bus – there was a total of 20 people on our tour which was pretty much capacity. Our driver gives us a detailed explanation of the island and its heritage on the way to our first stop – Mudbrick Vineyard. Once we arrived at Mudbrick we were greeted by our host who was waiting with glasses and wine. We walked up to the vine areas here, while tasting as well and got a full explanation of the wine making process that takes place on the island. Most of the wines tasted are reds, with a couple of whites thrown in. It was then down to the restaurant and cellar door for a bit of a look around.

The second winery includes tasting and nibbles at The Goldie Room which consists of the best chutney with some bread and dips and lovely wines. After a bite to eat you can walk up to the big tree and enjoy the breathtaking views.

Last stop is the stunning Te Whau Vineyard which is acclaimed for its outstanding architecture and panoramic 360 degree views. The wines here are pretty amazing too!

We really enjoyed our wine tasting tour here but if you are not into wines then there are plenty of other things to do on Waiheke Island. For more information on Waiheke Island go to


Lobby at the Langham Auckland, New Zealand

Langham Auckland Hotel Review

Langham Auckland Hotel, New Zealand

We recently stayed at the Langham Auckland which was our first time staying at a hotel in the Langham chain for quite a few years. The Langham here in Auckland is quite elegant — while not ultra modern, it does have a lot of old-world charm which makes it very comfortable and cozy to stay in.

We arrived at the Langham Auckland about two hours before check-in and due to a big conference checking out at the same time, had to wait for our room to be ready. They were kind enough however to give us access to the club lounge while we waited. The club lounge is a good size and we loved the all day snacks that they provided. It was lucky that we didn’t have the kids with us with on this trip with all those potato chips, Doritos, ice creams and soft drinks on offer.

Once our room was ready we were delighted to have a bottle of lovely New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc waiting for us in there. While the room is a good size, the bathroom is on the smaller side and we are not a fan of the bath and shower in one. It makes it quite uncomfortable for tall people to take a shower. The ceilings here throughout the hotel are actually quite low, so would not recommend this hotel for basketball players! There is also a little step as you enter the bathroom which is easy to trip on.

We stayed in a club room which came with some very good privileges including;

  • Breakfast in the Club Lounge from 7.00am until 10.30am (Mon-Fri) and until 11.00am (Sat & Sun)
  • Afternoon Tea in the Club Lounge from 2.00pm-5.00pm
  • Drinks & Canapés each evening in the Club Lounge from 5.30pm – 8.00pm
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Butler Service
  • Water & Fruit delivered to room daily
  • All day snacks in the Club Lounge including soft drinks, bottled water, ice creams, potato chips, Doritos, yoghurts, coffee & tea

The club lounge breakfast included some hot dishes including scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes as well as breads, pastries, fruit and cold cuts. It was a really good breakfast selection for a club lounge.

The afternoon tea in the club lounge here at the Langham Auckland is not to be missed, it is absolutely wonderful. The scones and cakes and bagels are just divine – no need to do the high tea when you have afternoon tea here!

The Club Lounge also has Pre-Dinner drinks and Canapés available for two and a half hours each evening. There is a good choice of beers, wines and spirits to choose from – drinks are waiter service not self pour. There is both hot and cold canapés, cheese board and cold cuts available which varied on the two nights that we were there. Then there are more little sweet treats on offer for dessert. The staff here were excellent, continually topping up drinks and keeping up the supply of canapés. This really is a good club lounge and worth paying the little bit extra to enjoy.

Langham Auckland has a Chuan Day Spa which apparently is world class (we unfortunately didn’t get to try it out on this trip) a good size health club and an outdoor heated pool and spa.

Although it is situated in the downtown central business district, the Langham Auckland is walking distance to many of Auckland’s famous landmarks such as the Sky Tower and Sky City Casino. The hotel also offers a complimentary shuttle bus service to and from Custom Street near the waterfront and ferry terminals. We did walk down to the ferry terminals on one of the days  and it took us about 25 minutes walking down Queen Street.

We used the concierge (Jeanne was great) to book a tour to Waiheke Island (review here) as well as organising a hotel car to the airport. The driver that took us to the airport was excellent, loved that we got picked up at 4.30am when it was pretty cold and hopped into the car and the seats were all heated – heaven!

We would happily stay here at the Langham Auckland again and definitely in a club room as the lounge access made this hotel great value. For more information on the Langham Auckland go to

While in Auckland we also stayed at the Hilton Auckland – read review here.

Hilton Auckland Hotel, New Zealand

Hilton Auckland Hotel Review

Hilton Auckland Hotel, New Zealand

If we had to briefly describe our recent stay at the Hilton Auckland in Zealand it would be “stunning views” and “wonderful location”. Although we only had a short stay of one night, we wouldn’t hesitate to return to this hotel. It looks like and truly feels like you are aboard a cruise ship here. The location is right on the wharf next to the ferry terminal and easy walking distance to local attractions such as the Sky Tower.

We stayed here (without the kids) on a Thursday night and used the hotel pick-up service from the airport. Our driver was excellent, very informative as it was our first time to Auckland and he explained a lot to us about the city and things to do. On arrival at the hotel we were checked in efficiently at a temporary lobby as the Hilton Auckland is currently undergoing renovations at its main lobby and Bellini Bar.

As Hilton Honours Diamond members we were delighted to receive an upgrade to one of the Bow Suites. This room definitely has a “wow” factor with its amazing views. It has a huge balcony which runs around the room and you could quite easily just sit out there all day and watch all the ships, ferries and sailing boats go by. As it was winter while we were there it was much easier for us to sit in the large comfy orange chair and watch them go by.

The bathroom is huge with a separate bath and shower as well as a double sink. There is an excellent supply of all the Peter Thomas Roth amenities too. The room has a mini bar complete with a pod espresso machine. Loved that at turndown we received 4 bottles of water as well as chocolates.

Hilton Auckland comes complete with a fully equipped gymnasium and also features a heated lap pool which comes with its own window at one end which would be pretty amazing to swim in during summer.

Dining is available in the  FISH Restaurant which as the name suggests, specialises in seafood but also has beef and lamb dishes. The buffet breakfast is also at FISH and offered a good selection of both hot and cold dishes. It was nice to sit down at breakfast and enjoy the amazing views on offer.

More casual dining is available at the Bellini Bar which unfortunately was undergoing renovations while we were there, but they did have an alternate temporary bar set up in part of the Fish Restaurant where we enjoyed a few drinks and a bite to eat.

The only negative that we can think of for the Hilton Auckland is that there is no Executive Lounge here. As Diamond members we were instead given 2 beer or wine drink vouchers to use at their temporary bar.

We look forward to saying here again one day to see how the renovations turn out – for more information on the Hilton Auckland you can go to

While in Auckland we also stayed at the Langham Auckland – read review here and visited Waiheke Island – read review here