What we love about travelling is learning about new countries, soaking in how the locals live and the uniqueness of every place we visit. Sure, we also shop, dine and wine along the way but mostly we just try to get lost wandering around and getting off the beaten track. Here are some of our observations from experiencing Waiheke Island, New Zealand:
Sailboats are docked in every bay waiting to be sailed off into the sunset. No docks anywhere on the island. We saw one guy walk out to his boat during low tide from our beach and it was fairly far out. Walk or swim are apparently the options to get out to your boat. The low tide/high tide ritual is amazing. We saw some very large fish trapped in a shallow pool of water by the road and I thought Thom was going to jump in and hand wrestle one but that wouldn’t be good sport now would it?
Public art can be found along the roadways and in the small villages that dot the coastline.
Butterflies are plentiful but only the orange/black monarchs. I notice because the butterfly is my spirit animal-always flying on to new places we are.
Water is precious and only procured by collecting rain water in cisterns. This means short showers and no ice. Glad there are 20 wineries on the island as margaritas would be hard to do without ice.
Ham, venison and lamb are the popular meats with seafood not as plentiful as you would think for an island in the South Pacific. Butcher shops outnumber seafood markets 3 to 1.
Lots of birds but haven’t seen a ground animal creeping anywhere. The birds are good for insect control. There is never a still moment of absolute quietness due to the constant humming of insects 24/7. So, birds are necessary but the wineries have to net their vines to prevent birds from feasting on the grapes.
While you hear the insects, you don’t see so many until dark when the mosquitos come out. Not sure why but none of the houses have screens on any windows/doors. You can open the windows during the day for sea breezes but not at night cause the mosquitos will invade and bite you. We even have a plug-in auto diffuser of repellent in our cottage which scared us when it went off. We thought it was smoking but it was misting toxic shit to keep us safe and unbitten. Thinking “oh we don’t need that” we unplugged it and proceeded to be midnight snacks for the invaders while we slept. Now the toxic mist is looking less lethal and more necessary.
The homes here are very modest but extremely expensive with a 2 bedroom fixer upper costing close to a million dollars. Damn great views though! Most houses that we saw had the doors standing wide open and you get the sense they don’t lock their doors even when out on their boats. Trusting fools.
Eggs are not refrigerated, crumpets are the breakfast carb and delicious, it’s “streaky bacon” here and takes forever to crisp up. Tea is the hot beverage of choice. There is no coffee maker in our cottage and no Starbucks on the island. WTF! But we do have a lovely teapot and hot water kettle we are using daily.
Outdoor bean bags are everywhere and quite costly running about $700 each but boy are they comfy. Only negative is that after consuming the local wines it may be hard to stand up after reclining and relaxing. After a few awkward attempts, you learn to roll, kneel and stand up without falling. Got to get me some of these for our Boise cottage!
Sidewalks are different here. Not on both sides of any road but rather they alternate sides. First left then right but never at the same time. No crosswalks to cross over when they switch. Be quick and nimble and remember they drive on the “wrong” side of the road here so look in the correct direction or die.
Beaches have sections that are clothing “optional”. Who knew? Well, we learned quickly when we started seeing naked bums and private parts being burned by the sun on Little Palm Beach which is next to the more traditional Palm Beach where bathing suits are worn. Oh my!
No chain restaurants here. Local restaurants ranging from Irish to Thai to Italian with some seafood thrown in. Don’t expect shops to be open past 6 p.m. and wineries are only open from 11-4 p.m. so plan your days here around the afternoon sips that will knock you on your ass. Naps afterward are highly recommended as the wine seems to have an extra bite going down and kicks in quicker than on the mainland.
Here’s to getting out into the world, appreciating diversity and savoring the journey. May we always take the road less travelled and discover new experiences along the way. Cheers!