The end of our six week travels across Australasia. Its been an amazing experience. New Zealand has definitely stolen a piece of our hearts. Its sister country, Australia on the other hand, was far more dry and hostile yet so similiar to what we know.
Tonight we begin our journey home – Auckland/Brisbane/Singapore/Dubai…and then finally Cape Town. Home. Just for a while.
Our last day. We decided to put in the full effort to explore the island today. To the east of the island there was a fairly unexplored area which covered most of the wine, sheep and cattle farms on the island. There was also a historical Second World War battery which was responsible for defending New Zealand from any navy vessels. Not that either one of us are great historial buffs but what the hell.
As soon as we hit the gravel road we passed this road sign. Maybe an indication of how quiet things can get? I say no more.
The route turned out to be absolutely stunning. Very steep gravel roads with sharp turns and spectacular views over bays. Then the odd mansion of a house with yet another sea view that boggles the mind.
(The battery was nothing to write home about – totally boring and musty as expected with an old New Zealander that smelled faintly of old sheep and cigarettes trying to interest us in history).
We spend the afternoon hiding from the heat in our cottage and finished our day with nice long walk on our beach. Saw at least five or six live sea stars!
Today we rented a little Suzuki jeep to zip around the island. From a ex-South African living on Waiheke. We zooted around the island, map in hand doing a beach/coffee/lunch scan as to what is where.
The tide pulled again this afternoon and I finally had my camera in hand to get a pic.
By lunchtime we had to find lunch and a suitable place for Doug to work so we pulled into Cable Bay Wine farm. A stunning piece of land overlooking the sea and vineyards. I was left to fend for myself as Doug dashed off for stronger signal while I made friends with the barman. A plate of cheese and a glass of wine later we were on our way to check out more on the island.
With no real use for the Jucy we returned it to Auckland this morning. The trip (with cars on board) takes a little longer, so about fifty minutes later we pulled into Halfmoon Bay, Auckland. To kill some time we drove around Auckland and checked out the suburbs of Parnell, Newmarket, and Browns Bay. I wanted to see the shopping possibilities and were duely satisfied that you could still be fashionable at the ass-end of the world.
Having done all the sightseeing, we both had enough and returned to the passenger ferry in Downtown Auckland. From here it takes exactly thirty minutes on the ferry back to Waiheke. These ferries run on the hour from early morning until midnight to carry commuters.
Back in Oneroa we lay off the books for a while and decided to pay the Skinny Sardine another visit – see if it was rocking as much as Friday night. To our disappointment the vibe wasn’t quite the same but we tucked into their tapas menu and took a walk back along the beach. At the moment they are experiencing what they call a King Tide – a phenomenon that takes place twice a year. They tide pulls right in so the beach is hardly visible. And then late afternoon it pulls so far back you can walk for miles into the sea.
They say see air makes you sleep better. We’re living proof. Had a good Sunday sleep in and only woke at nine. The weather looked pretty stormy over the bay this morning and the skies opened up with no warning. Great for reading and relaxing on a Sunday.
Doug and I have found this amazing series of books by Stieg Larsson. (Swedish) Its a trilogy. First one: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – my non-reading husband didn’t speak to me for two days in the Blue Mountains he was so hooked. Now we found the second book. I’ve started the first and while Doug has tackled number two. We’re totally hooked. (Highly recommended)
Our day today was spend with books lying on our designated couches. We stopped to have a braai at lunch and carried on reading in the afternoon. We did take a walk to the butchery to go buy our meat and I got a pic.
Just before sunset we decided to get our lazy asses up and went for a run – being a fairly small island we did a few zigzags around. Saw a lot of water, uphills and breathed heavily. Humidity here is quite high and off course we both felt we should have rather been at the Skinny Sardine. Was worth it though.
I did take pics of us after our run on our verandah but they’re not for public viewing as we are both drenched in sweat looking tired. (not our best look.) So sorry about that one. Instead here’s a pic of my sea urchin. 🙂
(see above out island getaway)
We woke up this morning to the sound of the waves. Bliss. The whole place has such a fantastic feeling to it. Makes you want to walk around barefoot in denim cutoffs singing Bob Marley all day. We’ve tried to figure out this sense of overall well being that you get here – and came to the conclusion that it must be something to do with the close proximity of beach. I guess we’ve been spoilt living in Cape Town and then again in a very green Switzerland near the Lake. This place just has a good feel to it. And by place, I mean New Zealand.
A walk on the beach early this morning set our tone for the day. The tide here retreats dramatically in the mornings – so much so that most boats end up high and dry. Makes for interesting photos and great for beach walking. We found a live sea urchin (never seen one of those before) and loads of shells with snails and funny looking crawlies.
This morning we took a walk through the village for a general look around and to find the information office. Strolled past the police which was closed due to lack of interest. What a beautiful sight – one I had to capture as proof and something I think we’ve never seen or will ever be witness to back in SA.
Lunch time we drove around on the island to get a better look. We picked a wine farm, Goldwater’s Estate for lunch and headed over the hill. A gorgeous winery overlooking the island, we sat down for a very informal tapas style lunch. Once again it struck me how unpretentious everyone was around here.
The weather started to move in and we headed home for the evening. With our location we were pretty happy to sit on our verandah or drape ourselves over a couch. The sound of the waves breaking was enough to keep us rooted to the spot for the evening.
We saw the sunrise again this morning as we checked into our flight at the crack of dawn. (I only woke up about forty minutes into the flight).
Both of us were intrigued to see see New Zealand again. Compare notes with the last three weeks in Australia. Although we’ve seen some stunningly beautiful places in Oz, both Doug and I prefer the green lushness of New Zealand so far.
We landed around two NZ time and got ourselves a Jucy. (That’s a budget car rental company here.) Our eighties sedan with velour seats suited a perfectly. In no time our GPS took us straight to the ferry to make the journey of forty minutes to Waiheke island.
Waiheke is simply beautiful. With a definite island feel, it is the second largest of forty islands within the Hauraki Gulf, being 92 square kilometres with 96 kilometres of coastline. In Maori it is known as the “island of the cascading waters.” It is part of Auckland city although arriving here you feel light years removed. It seems to have retained the seaside village charm as the lack of foreign tourists is clearly noticable.
Our cottage is a white clapboard structure on surf overlooking the Little Oneroa. Simple but comfortable we have an amazing view with a minute’s walk to the beach.
Doug and I were so exhausted after our early morning we barely put our bags down, did a small shop for basics and headed to the Skinny Sardine which was pointed out to us as the spot to go. Expecting a semi-rundown bar we were pleasantly surprised as the Sardine turned out to be a stunning lounge/bar with high whitewashed beams, beautiful darkwood fans stirring the air and comfy big leather couches overlooking the bay. For dinner we ordered a range of yummy spanish tapas that was fingerlicking good.
We wandered home around ten and fell asleep to the sound of the waves. Nothing better for a weary traveller.