It’s a rainy wintery Sunday afternoon and I’m looking through some summertime photos…I can’t wait for hot weather and sunny days and beach time!
I’m particularly excited about taking the ferry out to Waiheke Island again. I learned the other day that my team at work is planning an event day out there next month. The one and only time I’ve been out there was back in February…Marjo and I went for a vineyard tour and it was such an amazing day!
We sat in the sunshine on the top deck of the ferry for the quick trip over to the island, where we were collected along with the other guests by our driver/island guide. I realized how much I had missed this sort of touristy-type of outing. I had missed having a guide! The majority of bus drivers I’ve encountered in New Zealand are brimming with information that can’t always be found in a guide book. Before we went to the first vineyard, our guide took us on a little drive to some vista points and told us some of the standard information – that the island is just shy of 100 square kilometers with 8,000 residents (plus another 3500 with vacation homes). He compared this to Singapore, which is 700 square kilometers, with over 5 million inhabitants. Gah. And Waiheke boasts an impressive number of beaches – 95! He pointed out the surrounding islands, like Great Barrier Island, and informed us that nearby Rangitoto was a measly 650 years old.
He also told us about the permanent residents of the island – many take the ferry over to Auckland every morning for work. And there are quite a few opulent vacation homes or “baches” (cottages cleverly disguised as mansions). One home in particular has stood vacant for about 12 years. It wasn’t even completely finished being built. The story was the owner’s wife had died before they could move into their dream home. After that, he pretty much abandoned it.
One of those sad, haunting tales that I’d like to think is just gossip or a myth.
The following vineyard visits helped me forget about that tragedy for a bit. We bounced along to four or five vineyards, then Marjo and I decided to stay on the island a little bit longer to have dinner.
(I make that sound like it was a decision, but really we had no choice, as we had missed our ferry and the next one wasn’t due to arrive for over an hour.)
I didn’t want to go home. Although I find something creepy about the thought of living on a tiny island with no connection to the mainland other than a boat, I thought it would be worth it. Ninety-five beaches and some of the best vineyards in New Zealand? I may be a bit paranoid, but I’m not completely ridiculous.