Sunday, July 7, 2013

Wandering Waiheke

Setting off from Auckland
After preparing a nice breakfast of sausage (purchased at the French Market) and eggs, we headed downtown and caught the 10 am ferry to Waiheke Island. The skies were blue and the winds mostly still, so it was a beautiful ride out through the harbor on the upper deck. Note to travelers intending to take and early morning ferry: take along a towel to wipe down the seats; I used my stocking cap. Aside from the prospect of soggy breeches, all was perfect, and the views incredible.

Rangitoto Island (shield cone volcano)
Decided not to take any of the guided bus tours available, but to strike out on our own to explore. We hired two scooters (vastly underpowered for the big guy), and were free to move about the country. Quite by accident, we found ourselves at Blackpool Beach and the Esplanade at low tide, then found the Sea Scouts in town were having a car boot sale (think very small flea market), so we had to browse that for a bit.

Palm Beach
Had a good ride to Palm Beach, where we dismounted for a while and walked on the beach and the rocks, exploring the tide pools. Tons of little snails stranded, but no leviathans reported, and the lunch selections there seemed a bit sparse - Palm Beach Fish & Chips appeared to be the only establishment open, so we got back on our screaming yellow machines and headed to Onetangi.

Onetangi Bay
We relaxed for a while at a beach front restaurant appropriately called...The Beach Front, where the service as also...relaxed. The view over the Onetangi Bay was too beautiful for words, so we didn't complain as we dawdled over a Mac's hard cider and anticipated our introduction to a New Zealand delicacy, the meat pie. If you're from the U.S., and I say "chicken pot pie" you get a picture in your head, most likely, of the prototypical Swanson's frozen pie which your mom popped into the oven when she'd had a rough week cooking and cleaning for her idyllic Ozzie and Harriet family, and though you perhaps have a whiff of nostalgia for that delectable treat, it doesn't inspire awe in the slightest.

The pies here, however, consisted of a blend of meats and veggies (mine was chicken & leeks, Michele had steak & kidney) in a delicately flavored sauce very unlike the salty gravies we're accustomed to, baked in a porcelain boat with a top made of filo dough, crisped to a perfect brown. The French fries accompanying our pies were perfectly cooked, but paled in comparison to the main course. Pot pies on steroids!

Back on the scooters, a little heavier, we rode back across the island to Oneroa, where we discovered the hidden gem of Oneroa Beach down a long winding pathway. Wandered down to the water's edge amid scattered  seashells and the occasional starfish, and checked out the yachts floating serenely on the tide.

Near Cable Bay
Next we decided to see about some wine tasting, so we went towards Cable Bay, and enjoyed both rustic and panoramic views along the way until we discovered Jurassic Ridge Winery. A couple from Wellington were just finishing their tasting and took their time choosing a bottle or two for the road, but when they finished we had the owner/vintner/oenophile all to ourselves for the rest of the working hours, and we chatted with him, got educated on the fine science of viniculture, and tasted some really really really (did I say "really"? already) tasty wines, which have won some major awards for obvious reasons. We picked up a couple bottles of his Sauvignon Blanc at a reasonable price when it was time to depart, and had just enough room under the seat of the scooter to carry them without jettisoning our other luggage. Priorities, right?

Return to Auckland

Zipped on back to Matiata Harbor, dropped off the scooters, and caught the 4 PM ferry back to Auckland, with a detour to Devonshire wharf along the way, so we got a bit of a bonus sightseeing there. Walked back to our apartment and relaxed for a bit with a few appetizers, then went to the grocery store down the road for a few necessities, and had a light dinner of baguettes, brie, a Kapiti emmenthal, olives, tomatoes, cold pizza and a Fruju lemon and grapefruit popsicle to finish it all off.

Bon appetite, y'all.


HollyRobbins said...

That sounds like a perfect day to me!

marsha said...

Aren't all the Maori names interesting? You'll be glad you did this blog so you can keep all the places you visited straight and remember their names. Love, love, love your commentary. Keep it up.