“I think I have an inherent modest level of stress, but I’m only super-aware of it when it goes away, when I’m on holiday and I think, ‘Oh this feels pretty good.‘” –Mark Ronson The little island of Waiheke in the Hauraki Gulf is Auckland’s little lottery-winning Auntie. With acres and acres of vineyards and undulating hills, it’s as picturesque as a postcard, much-like a lot of New Zealand is. But this pretty place comes with a pretty price!
Don’t get me wrong, if you are into wine tasting and beautiful views, Waiheke is the island for you all year round. However, if it’s the middle of winter, it’s raining and you’re anything like me there is not a whole lot to do besides the usual antics you’d get up to if you were sitting at home. Despite this fact, it was still very nice to get out of Devonport and escape reality for just a couple of days. That is something that everyone should experience every once in a while.
In the summer, Waiheke is ideal: sandy beaches, touristy cafés galore, shops selling a wide range of bits and bobs and there is still a stellar glass of wine available pretty much everywhere, so I’d count that as quite a favourable family holiday hotspot, wouldn’t you?
Our reason for such an expedition was purely spontaneous and rather indulgent, a great reason I thought. We set off at midday from the North Shore and made our way to the Half Moon Bay Car Ferry port, the location of our premier typical car drama. It was just as the cars were being loaded on to the ferry that our car decided to go into hibernation and die on us. Obviously, this induced a feeling of panic inside the car as we wondered if we’d ever make it on to the ferry. What is a holiday without a little drama? Well there you go, that question proves itself worthy every time I go on a family holiday and i’m sure that it rings true for many others. You’re not alone!
Thankfully, one of the nice staff jumpstarted our car and THANK GOD we were off on our travels once again. Crisis averted. The bach we stayed in went by the name of Shutters and was a charming little two-bedroom cottage sporting a very open plan and friendly feel. Like many kiwi baches the aesthetic of the little house was very rustic with it’s wooden surfaces and homey furniture, creating that lived-in effect that looked like it had been picked out a House&Gardens magazine.
That night my friend Georgia and I declared that we were going to cook so that the adults could relax and put their feet up. We cooked a perfect winter-warmer, my favourite curry of all time, the Chicken, Spinach and Lentil Coconut Curry, previously posted up a couple of blog posts ago. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend that you check it out! Anyway the fun really started when Georgia and I ventured into the realm of Pinterest dessert replication. We’d recently come across the idea of the “chocolate balloon bowl” which looks a little something like this…
The balloons are supposed to cleanly peel themselves from the interior of the chocolate bowl and leave behind a perfectly formed bowl-shape…this was not the case for us. Like every pretty Pinterest post ever posted, the end result was not quite as picturesque as we’d planned. First of all we didn’t take into account the science of creating these chocolatey creations, thereby covering all of the surfaces in chocolate as the inflated balloon exploded due to heat pressure from the warm melted chocolate vs the cold air and POP! We were covered.
I haven’t laughed in such a long time as I did when I turned to put a popped balloon in the bin to hear another deafening ‘POP!’ and a defeated groan from Georgia as we both turned to each other, me silent in anticipation and Georgia sporting a huge spot of chocolate thrown across her t-shirt. We subsequently burst into fits of exulted laughter.
That was just the beginning. Prior to putting the chocolate-covered balloons in the fridge, we’d forgotton to grease the balloon and so we found difficulty in actually separating the balloons from the chocolate, making it more chocolate shards for dessert than chocolate bowls. Moral of the story: read the recipe. Oh well, there is always next time. It still tasted great! We followed this up with a couple of movies: the endearing and funny What We Did On Our Holiday and the tearful If I Stay which we all wept at!
The next day we all bundled into the car, including Elsie (the dog) and drove around the island, past Oneroa, Onetangi etc and making a pit-stop at Man O’ War wine tasting centre for a little break. We snacked on some lovely bread, oil and dukkah whilst Mum and Sam drank their choice of wine. The deal with wine tasting is that you can test up to three different wines for free and then you can buy a glass.
If there is one thing that Waiheke does well it is the views, sitting on a bench outside the building only 100 metres away was the glistening blue sea. You wouldn’t believe that you were only a 45-ish minute ferry ride from the centre of Auckland city.
Elsie was very happy as there were lots of walks for her to be taken on and plenty of people to give her the attention she so longingly searches for 24/7. On the last day we walked along Oneroa Beach and had lunch at Wai Kitchen before setting off for the ferry, back to reality. Despite the rain, we still observed a stunning view of the Hauraki Gulf from where we sat up on the hill and revelled in it.
I was so glad to have taken the opportunity to go to Waiheke and I think it is one of those places that you need to go to at least once, even if you don’t find it that special. With a foot-ferry ticket only costing about $36 return trip for an adult and $18 for a child, it’s not digging too much in to your pocket. Especially if you just want to go there to see the sights and walk around and take a picnic, a trip to Waiheke for the say doesn’t have to be that expensive!
I am now sat here with a stinking cold and so I have spent all day in bed with the covers wrapped up to my ears but I guess that’s the price you have to pay in winter, it seems as though everyone is sick at the moment.
Stay warm and healthy you lot and have a good week!