Visions of dollars flying out of his wallet dulled my husband’s enthusiasm for the idea of a summer family weekend on Waiheke Island. And the prospect of long, leisurely afternoons of wine tasting did not excite him one little bit either. My hyperactive husband (HH) does not really do relaxation; he likes activity with a capital A. For him, the cons – it will cost several arms and legs for the six of us to eat, drink and sleep on Waiheke; I don’t like drinking wine in the daytime; and what’s wrong with a weekend at home in Gisborne anyway? – seemed to far outweigh the pros – a mere three-hour flight and a 35-minute ferry ride for our daughters and sons-in-law who live in Sydney; a place with a laid-back holiday vibe away from home where we could be together as a family and not fall into the trap of spending most of the time doing chores at home; and access to a myriad of beautiful beaches. So it was time to convene a summit meeting among the female members of the family … assisted by our top-secret girls’-only WhatsApp chat group. We came up with a cunning plan: a walks-for-wine trade-off – for every hour indulging in imbibing activities, or rather inactivity, we would spend the equivalent amount of time doing exercise. That was the theory anyway.

Justine relaxing with a cuppa and a magazine at Palm Beach Treehouse

Accommodation on the island was the next obstacle. Now that our family had increased from four to six with the addition of a couple of delightful sons-in-law, we could no longer share a hotel room or just ‘chuck the kids in a bunkroom’. It was peak summer holiday time and prices were at a premium, but thanks to Bookabach we found an upmarket, three-bedroom, two-bathroom house a couple of minutes from Palm Beach at a reasonable rate.

The ferry terminal from the Matiatia Headlands Walkway

Modern, spacious and tastefully furnished, Palm Beach Treehouse – so named because it’s surrounded by tropical trees – was equipped with absolutely everything we needed for a great family break including a fabulous modern kitchen, large BBQ, spa pool, full laundry and even a VW Touareg 4WD.

We had a barbecue at Palm Beach on a warm summer evening

HH cooked his famous curry in the kitchen and a boned-out lamb roast and beef on the BBQ, so we did not have the added expense of dining out in the evenings. Furthermore, it was only a two or three-minute downhill walk to idyllic Palm Beach, exercise that also earned us wine-drinking credits. We decided to go for quality not quantity in our selection of vineyards so we chose three and did them well, ever-mindful of the accord we had struck.

Stephen Mulqueen’s sculpture, Rua-Kuriwao, the Red Bush Dog at Cable Bay

On day one, we called at Casita Miro, a Spanish-style vineyard restaurant where we shared a variety of delicious tapas dishes and a divine bottle of rosé and then reclined and chatted under the olive trees.

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