07 Apr Perfect day on Waiheke Island
I’ll just go ahead and say it – I wasn’t looking forward to visiting Auckland. It’s the biggest city in the country and I’ve made my pilgrimage here to New Zealand for the beautiful scenery and the feeling of being isolated in the wilderness. For me, Auckland was merely a place to pass through before my real journey began.
Yesterday my pre-conceived notions about Auckland seemed to be right on. After checking in to my hostel (the positively dreary ACB Base- I don’t recommend it) it was nearly night time. Other than the tasty (and cheap!) ramen at some hole-in-the-wall restaurant, all I saw was CITY everywhere I looked, with streets filled with tourist shops.
However, after today I have to say that my feelings have changed. To start the day I decided to get out of the city and take a ferry out to Auckland’s neighboring Waiheke Island, known for beautiful beaches and high-end wine.
I had a fantastic time exploring the island and meeting many friendly locals along the way who were always willing to point me in the direction of the best places to visit and actually go the extra mile and make sure I got there!
Around mid-day I decided to head to some vineyards to do some wine tasting, and after stopping briefly at Saratoga Estate to do a $5 tasting of 4 wines (Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, a Cab/ Merlot blend and a Rose dessert wine) under the instruction of the vineyard’s owner I walked a little dirt path through their vineyard until I hit another dirt road, turned left and found myself at the Stonyridge Vineyard (rustic, yet classy, overlooking the hillside lined with rows and rows of grapes.)
I sat at a table on the terrace, just me with my one place setting. Some people may think it’s lonely or awkward to sit alone, but after traveling alone so frequently I’m used to it by now. I usually just read or write in my journal. So, I ordered and was admiring the view when I heard some stirring from the table next to me. Evidently two groups were combining tables, and before I knew it I was invited to join the party, too!
We had Brian and Carol from New Zealand, Damien (Carol’s son) who was visiting from Osaka, Japan, and Michael and Rowena from London. Oh, and I can’t forget little Sampson!
We shared stories and good wine before moving on to the neighboring croquet field to play a few games of Pétanque… Basically, it’s a game similar in purpose to Shuffleboard, where you take these heavy silver balls and try to get the closest to another smaller ball that is thrown out at the start of each game. Whichever team gets the closest wins! We tried every possible combination of teams to ensure that everyone won at least once. (This is my kind of competition!)
After saying goodbye to Michael and Rowena, I ended up going with the others for a tour of the island before they dropped me off at the wharf just in time for the ferry! Heading to that vineyard was one of those perfect, serendipitous moments that ended up leading to a really fun afternoon.
One the way back to Auckland as the sun began to set, I was finally able to step back, reflect and see the city from a different angle. I’m now officially a fan.