We're still waiting for good weather to head back up to Whangarei. June 1st is the start of winter here in New Zealand. We have had the odd day of wonderful weather but then another weather system foloowed by another weather system appears and we decide to stay a little longer.
We are on a mooring in Maitiatia Bay on the west coast of Waiheke Island. It is extremely convienient for the ferry to Auckland, the local Waiheke buses and many walking tracks.
We had come down to Waiheke to meet sailing friends we had first met in New England, Simon and Kim. We were anchored near them near in Newport, Rhode Island and stopped by in the dinghy to marvel at their spectular transom. It was wide, easy to board and lead into an equally spectular cockpit. We last saw them in Trinidad.
We had planned to have lunch with them at the Mudbrick Vineyard restaurant in Waiheke. As we were days early, we scoped out the location. It was a 30 minute walk from Maitiatia Bay though woods, farms and vineyards.
At this time of year the sun always very low in the sky, but it still is strong enough to suck all the colour and detail out of your photos if you're not in a position to get it behind you. I'd have to catch Tim and that seldom happens.
The day felt especially fine thanks to the rainy days that had preceded it.
I was really pleased to finally see why the New Zealand Fantail is forever fluttering along with walkers. They take advantage of us stirring up insects for them to eat. This is the first time I was actually able to see the swarm of gnats that they were picking out of the sky one by one.
This was not an easy video to take. They are so fast!
There are often notices informing us of the history of the area.
We hope to do more walking on Waiheke before we get our weather window to head north.
We did take the opportunity to visit Auckland for the day. It is just a 25 minute ferry ride from Maitiatia. We went off peak for $35 return.
We have very few reminders as we go about our day that Covid19 is such an enormous problem elsewhere in the world. We haven't needed to use public transportation and we spend most of our time in less populated areas or at anchor. We use the Covid Tracer App on our phones whenever we visit public places and I carry 4 masks in my backpack, but that is it. Travelling on the ferry was the first time we had been required to use them in over a year.
We arrived in Auckland well before anything of the shops opened, thanks to our ticket restrictions, and we had plenty of time to wander around the city.
We decided to start with a coffee and not fancying a crowded high
street shop we wandered up toward the University. We found a cafe under the Ellen Melville Centre on
a nice little square and went inside.
The urn of hot water and instant coffee and tea bags on the counter were a hint. It took a while, however, to figure out that we had wandered into a community centre. By then it felt rude to leave haveing chatted with others helping themselves to a hot drink, so we made and drank our free coffee, rinsed our cups and put them in the dishwasher tray as per the sign, thanked the people who worked there and went on our way.
There aren't many places in Auckland, or Waiheke Island even, where you can't see the Sky Tower. It is a great landmark for navigating the streets.
Much of the construction along the waterfront is complete but there are still packets of major building work going on. I suspect that they are replacing an intersection on a steep hill with a tunnel and road over the top. Auckland is a very hilly city thanks to its 53 dormant Volcanoes.
We walked up through Albert Park to the University Clock Tower and it went like this.
Up a steep path past this extemely tall tree with aerial roots.
It might be a very tall and straight Pohutukawa, but I'm doubtful. The Pohutukawa is also known as the New Zealand Christmas Tree because it flowers red and white in the NZ summer, Christmas time. It isn't normally that tall and usually spreads out wider from the base, but its the only one I could find with the aerial roots.
The fact that the next three trees are all Ombu trees, native to South America, seem to supports that doubt. These might not be endemic to New Zealand, but they are very impressive.
Carry on up hill ducking under the low hanging branch across the path.
And finally, past the floral clock across the road to ....
We were pleased that the next walking we did was down hill on the whole to the Auckland Bridge.
And last but by no means least...
We had a most enjoyable lunch at the Mudbrick Restaurant with Simon, Kim, Ian, Ann, me and Tim. I'm letting a picture say a thousand words. It is the type of dining we don't do ever! : )
Yesterday, we had a lovely afternoon with an ex-work colleague of Tim and an equally memorable meal in their quite amazing mountain-side house. We're looking foward to having them aboard Larus and have our fingers crossed for a dry warm day.
Unless it stops raining, this will be the last from Waiheke.