Thursday, 18 December 2008

Waiheke Island

Oh hi! We took the short trip on the ferry to Waiheke for our last excursion in NZ. After checking out the I-site for info, we booked ourselves into a B&B. The d├ęcor was full-on 80's pink English seaside B&B, but quite homely and 'normal' in a funny kind of way, which made it very relaxing.

It was a brilliantly sunny day and this inspired us to get straight on with seeing the island. Using the handy Waiheke Walks leaflet, we chose Rocky Bay's Te Whau Loop. The first part was rather disappointing as the track was next to a road, but we did catch this sight, an old fire engine in a field behind the dirt track racing circuit...Random.

Off the main road we passed the Te Whau Sculpture Garden, that we planned to visit the next day. Along the way we heard the same beautiful song from the bird that we had heard all along the Hump Ridge Track. A bit further along we actually saw the bird for the first time! It was tiny. We think that it might be the Bell bird.

Back on the road again, we got some great views of Putiki Bay...

Looking across to Dead Dog Bay (Okoka Bay).

We walked up the hill here and took a break in the midday sun on one of the many nicely made wooden benches.

After hoofing around yet more of the roads we were super parched and in desperation for a drink, so decided to pop into Te Whau vineyard, and get a glass of water, lol. This was pricey to say the least. Handily we also got directions from the initially confused bar staff for the next part of the walk. We were very hot, sweaty and under dressed, but our thirst was more important! Lol.

Wiji on the vineyard balcony with the Waiheke Walks leaflet. We had quickly realised it contained very bad maps indeed. We managed to down our 2pt bottles of expensive water before sloshing off down the road again.

One of the attractions advertised at the I-site was an olive grove and oil tasting. This particular olive grove had their own heard of Llamas too. We watched the Llamas, from the vineyard, all run (in a weird Llama way) up and down the hills to be fed by one of the staff. It was a strange sight.

'Yamma time'.

After the vineyard the walk became more interesting for me as it left the road and started to descend along the coast path.

The NZ Pohutukawa flower, that blooms in December.

Above Hitapa Bay.

Loving the coastal path. Recently I have been thinking about the South West Peninsular Coast Path, back home. I really want to do it...

This Pohutukawa tree was full of enormous blooms, the colour really fuzzed!

Looking down to Hitapa Bay, where the track continued down on to the beach...

Taking a break on the beach...

Before having the brilliant idea of going for a skinny dip...

Getting dressed post skinny dip and totally refreshed! Oh god yeah!

Further along was Kuakarau Bay, and yet another lavish pad, the deck chair was actually 4m high, but you can't really get that from this angle. Waiheke used to be a hippy artist island, now it is full of top dollar real estate due to the micro-climate and its proximity to Auckland. It was a bit of a let down in that sense. There were a mix of properties, but aspects of Waiheke did seem too moneyed up.

The next day we nipped back to Te Whau Sculpture Garden, put our money in the donation box in the rather lavish 'potting shed' (whatever), and made our way through the masses of tropical flowers that fell over the gravel paths to see the sculptures.

In amongst the flowers and Punga tree ferns...

We made our way leisurely around the grounds without another soul in sight.

A nice ceramic tile effort, reflecting the flax weaving traditions.

A giant Pukeko.

Wiji with the useless map of the day, again. He did well though.

Back to the part of Te Whau that we saw from the track on the previous day. The maquette birds for the gates we later saw...

The gates.

The wetland part of the walk.

A very nice ghost like chicken wire man and canoe, that we found after wandering through the Punga forest that was interspersed with Manuka trees. The buzzing of the bees was extremely loud above us.

The gates at the entrance of Te Whau by renowned NZ artist Jeff Thompson, who uses corrugated iron to cover everyday objects such as cars.

After the walk we went off to Onetangi Bay for a swim.

The waves were quite big and breaking close to the shore. It was here that we saw a man drive his boat into the sea then motor off. The boat had big chunky beach tires that were retractable when in the water and it was all powered by the out board motor...He was dead chuffed with himself and his boat that he had named 'Sea legs', lol.

Wiji eating melted chocolate biscuits in the car. Very British, apart from the sunshine.

'Oh dear, did you want one?'

The following day we visited the Christmas craft fair at Huruhi Bay, Surfdale. It was far too 'crafty' for us, so we purchased some lemon meringue pie and a samosa, respectively and ate them looking out to sea, before running (silent scream internalised) back to the car to escape the craft nightmare.

Our planned activity for the afternoon was to visit three vineyards, the first stop was Stonyridge. We tried some estate grown malbec's and reminisced about Argentina. We also tried some blended reisling's. The shade under the date palm was perfect. The vineyard was heaving with massive groups of people on Christmas do's.

The olive trees in front of the vines.

Next we visited Te Motu vineyard.It was much smaller in scale and we loved the 2002 Merlot cabinet.

We then went onto Passage Rock vineyard, and caught the last tasting of the day. We managed to get mixed up with an elderly lady who insisted on doing it properly and spitting into a bucket. No, we really couldn't bring ourselves to be that serious about it all.

We had a last look around the island later in the day...

Looking towards Man-O-War Bay, on the way to Stoney Batter.

Looking down over Owhiti Bay.

Before heading back to our room and drinking our Te Motu purchase and thoroughly chillaxing.

The next morning the weather had turned very grey and overcast, but we were catching the ferry back to Auckland and now had Borneo on our minds...

Waiheke on the left...So long...

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