|Flying over the Kaikoura range|
So in the hurry to go, I was really pleased that I remembered the iPad and the camera. In the end, I never once touched the iPad, and the camera got trucked around with no memory card in it. So every single picture here is substandard Windows Phone quality. (Lesson #89: buy the phone with the better camera. I wish I did.)
We arrived in Auckland to rain. Relentless, windy, gray rain. And unfortunately for us, that’s the way it was destined to be for the better part of our holiday. In the past we’ve always been so lucky with weather on our vacations. I guess our turn was up.
Anyways, we made the best of it. We had lunch, walked by the water, through a few parks, through the university, and over to Auckland Domain, which is kinda like a botanical gardens but also a bunch of playing fields. We were soaked. There were a few greenhouses we took cover in, with some beautiful tropical flora.
|Pretty sure this pitcher plant traps kittens instead of flies.|
We ended up a few miles from town, so taxi’d it back into the city centre, where we walked some more, and eventually found dinner at a taco truck (!). It was a bit disappointing, but still, a taco truck! View from the truck:
After a few more stops for scenery we pulled over at the Man O War Vineyard on the rural east coast of Waiheke. If you check out their website, you can see what Waiheke looks like in the sun. I can’t say enough good things about their wine, which is surprisingly all grown on Waiheke Island. Who knew a subtropical island could grow so many varietals, so well? Also, they are the only winery on the island (there are 20+) that have complimentary tastings. Oh, and their honey (of all things) is fantastic! We brought some home. I have no photos, but do check them out!
Driving north on the rural road away from Man O War, we stopped for one last walk in the rain, on what would obviously have been an amazingly beautiful hike if it were sunny. But there was one thing… lambs!
As usual, we used AirBNB for our accommodations throughout the weekend, and although I have nowhere to really rave about, every spot was nice, quiet, comfortable, etc, etc. If you don’t already use Air BNB when you travel, you are missing out.
The following day we woke up in Waiheke to overcast, but dry(ish) weather. Before we returned our rental “car”- strictly at 10:30 – we drove to the north side of the island to explore a bit more. We found a pretty little cove in Palm Beach and hung out as long as time would allow.
About 10 minutes.
|This day also marked 8 years Scott and I have been together. So that’s fun 🙂|
|I thought this tree growing on the rock was neat. A little confusing in the picture but whatever. It’s my blog.|
We returned our rental car promptly at 10:30, but decided no to get on the ferry quite yet. Especially since I had just gotten a text from our next place of accommodation back in Auckland which read:
Hi Kristen. Horrid Day. Let me know when you’ll be here. Sally.
At least we were in a place that was dry. From above, anyways. So from the rental car spot we tramped up and over the hill to a couple of vineyards. Admittedly, they were the tourist trap wineries, being close to the ferry and all, but hey- we’re tourists, and usually pretty happy to be trapped by wine. It was amusing to walk into each one with muddy boots (and Scott with a muddy backside as he went sliding down a hill on the hike over). If they were put off by us, they hid it well.
We were pretty happy both both Cable Bay and Mudbrick, although both used lots of grapes grown in the south island and from other parts of New Zealand. Not nearly as impressive (or tasty!) as Man O War!
|Entrance, and questionable photography, at Cable Bay Vineyard. Great pino gris and syrah, skip the sauvignon blanc!|
|Mudbrick. It looks better than it tastes. And tastings are a rip off. Yep, I said it.|
We finally boarded the ferry in the early afternoon and headed back to Auckland. And our dry, gray skies turned… well, horrid. What a horrid day. We taxi’d up to Sally’s house in Ponsonby- a poshy little neighborhood recommended to us by friends for shopping and eating. Unfortunately, the weather was so foul that even shopping was pretty uncomfortable. We settled in for a crazy snack of mushrooms and bacon, and I had a pear and vodka smoothie… or something? Anyways, the most exhilerating thing we did this afternoon was eat, so I took a picture of it.
That night we went to a comedy show across town in New Market at the Lumsden Free House. If you’ll recall from some post a year or so ago, a “free house” is a bar that has a license to sell whatever kind of booze they want instead of being regulated by “big beer” companies in New Zealand like Macs, Steinlager, or Heineken. Gross. Anyways, this just means you’re guaranteed an actual craft beer selection. And to be fair, good craft beer was not hard to find in Auckland.
The comedy show was good- minus one or two of the acts, and it was free, which is my favorite number. We felt like we had kind of salvaged our night.
Oh- and on a side note, we took the bus from the ferry to our accommodations in Ponsonby, from Ponsonby to New Market, and back, as well as around quite a bit the next day. The public transportation system in Auckland is amazing, and each ride anywhere in the city, bus or train, is $2 per person. Christchurch, San Francisco, Paris: take notes.
The next, and last, day we woke up to the sound of silence. No rain. No wind. Blue skies.
We jumped out of bed and got to it, because there was so much time we had spent indoors looking out. It was Sept 2, the second official day of spring, but it was like Auckland got the memo a day late. But the memo was received: it was a beautiful, sunny, warmish spring day.
We bussed over to Mount Eden, one of the largest of Auckland’s many craters. It’s a volcanic area, with 53 volcanoes locally that have erupted at least once. Anyways, view from the top:
|Hole in the ground.|
After taking in the sun and views from Mount Eden we had lunch in Kingsland- another highly recommended suburb for shopping and eating- we ate, and left. It was boring. But we headed down to the waterfront and found….
BIKES! We found bikes! We found free bikes! Well, $2/person to “register” and the first 2 hours were “free”. And we actually kept them an extra hour because… bikes!
We rode all around the Auckland waterfront, to a nearby suburb called St. Heliers. After a few bends in the road, the tall buildings disappeared and were replaced with sailboats, and the people dissipated. It was calm and warm and sunny. And bikes!
|Taking in the view from St. Helier|
|Happy to put the skyline in the background.|
|When you need sunnies- its a good day!|