Note to self: driving a rental camper three hours from the campground to Auckland Airport, dropping off the rig, picking up a rental car, driving 45 minutes to a car ferry, traveling on the car ferry for an hour whilst the Prada Cup happened, arriving on Waiheke Island, appearing on our friends doorstep for a four night stay, meeting Gosi the energetic puppy and going out to dinner may have been too much for a single day.
Waiheke Island located in the Hauraki Gulf approximately 14 miles (22 km) from Auckland. is known for vineyards, food, beaches and beautiful landscape. Two weeks on the island passed by way too quickly.
In 2005 while living in Auckland, we lucked out meeting fellow sailors, Tom and Barb, who lived aboard their boat in the same marina as we lived. After experiencing tons of fun with them in Auckland, Fiji, New Caledonia and Australia, we knew our friendship was destined to go beyond our sailing adventures.
After finishing their circumnavigation, they built a beautiful home and guest house in the bush on Waiheke Island. What a treat to wake up in their guest house for a few days.
Gosi: “When I play fetch the stick, I don’t mess around”
Oh, and Barb is really into weaving (and spinning, and wool selection, and fabric dyeing, and…).
Man Of War Winery tasting room and restaurant sit right off the beach in Man Of War Bay. What a great spot to grab a bite to eat and drink glass of wine. While we arrived via car, many folks came to visit via some form of water craft. That is our kind of winery.
The Airbnb listing promised “Views, views, views” for the holiday home booked for the remainder of our stay on Waiheke. Yep. Out the backdoor is turquoise water, hills, vineyards and out the front door is more water, a volcano and the Auckland skyline. This will do just fine.
We visited vineyards, enjoyed delicious meals, explored beaches and even watched our first movie in a theater since January 2020. Delightful.
Lest you think New Zealand escapes all things COVID. While on the island, the Auckland region entered lockdown as 3 cases of COVID were discovered in the community. While the cases all appeared to be related to folks working at or near the airport, NZ has kept COVID under control using strict containment and contact tracing.
Originally, post-Waiheke, we planned to enjoy watching the Americas Cup hosted by Emirates Team New Zealand by staying in Auckland for a few days. The lockdown meant all of the public viewing areas for the Americas Cup shut down for the days we had booked in Auckland. Time for a change of plans.
Eligibility for the vaccine in the US combined with the weather and freedoms of New Zealand resulted in extending our NZ stay by about six weeks. We rented an accommodation in Mount Maunganui better known as “The Mount”. Surf town, tons of walking, shops, cafes – bring it on.
Bye for now Auckland, we’re off to the Mount.