“It’s only a little further.” Thom’s famous words as we literally walked the entire width of Waiheke Island from Shelley Beach to Palm Beach. Take a bus? No way not when we can traipse along for miles on the narrow sidewalk up and down hills exploring by foot. Along the way we saw beautiful flowers, towering ferns, and a glimpse into local New Zealand life. One of my favorite memories of our time in China was walking down the hill from the Great Wall. Not such a happy memory for our son James who was with us and couldn’t understand the whole walking vs. taking the free bus ride. He thinks we’re crazy. Probably right but hey we enjoy the journey.
After exploring Shelley Beach in front of our cottage this morning, we set off on foot for the north side of the island where the beaches were known to be sandy and long. Palm Beach was gorgeous. Worth the walk. Families enjoyed the surf as Thom and I walked into the waters of the South Pacific together. Oh my what a moment. Strolling down the beach over a rocky section we entered what we quickly realized was the “clothing optional” part. Goodness, naked bums everywhere! Mostly older folks but also some millennials strumming guitars in the altogether. Walking between two naked groups while trying not to stare at not-so-private parts on full display, we found a path the led us straight up the steep hill for a most spectacular view. I had read about the history of Waiheke Island as an “alternative” community for hippies that featured naked beaches so I wasn’t surprised. Researching online when we returned home, I found many references to Little Palm Beach. About Travel site advised “Remember to use common sense when stripping off at a beach. Only select secluded areas where there are either other naked people or no one at all.” Good advice. In other words, nudism is tolerated but be discreet.
A kind tour guide who was shepherding rich tourists in a motor coach at the top of the hill shared where we could find the nearest bus stop and off we went to the local village for some fish and chips and shopping. Most people would never just walk across an island and favor public transportation vs. renting their own car like we do. What we saved in transportation costs though, I gladly spent on shopping. One shop had local crafts and I picked up another pillow cover, adding to my large collection from around the world, as well as gifts and a gorgeous silver ring for myself.
We asked the shopkeeper for food recommendations which led us to The Local, with fish and chips made to order and truly delicious. Dessert was a deep fried pineapple ring coated in cinnamon sugar. Decadent! After lunch, Thom started wandering to find our bus home. I made him stop for directions (men!) so we quickly found our stop and home we went to do a little sea kayaking and relaxing. Another day in paradise!