Took the ferry from Auckland to Waiheke Island. The landing is at a
place called Matiatia. Took the bus from Matiatia to the end of the
line at Onetangi. The hostel is located up at the top of 184 steps,
which is not easy with a full pack. I rested twice on the way up.
After I checked in and got my bearings I set off for the grocery to
get some staples. I ran across an organic food shop on the way and
decided to get things there, since that's better for the environment
and all. I asked for some help from the lady running the place,
trying to find some things. I must say, there are two words I now
know to avoid when shopping on this trip: gourmet and organic. Man,
that was expensive! I walked out a little shocked and wishing I'd had
the backbone to walk out when I saw the prices. Feeling a bit down I
explored the local neighborhood and found a bakery. I poked my nose
in to see if it was worth coming back when I felt richer and the woman
behind the counter demands to know what I want and quick as she's
closing. Oh yeah, and whatever I take is free! I took two raspberry
buns and eight whole wheat rolls at her insistence. The contrast
between the two experiences has really struck me. I walked back
giggling to myself the whole way.
The next day (Wednesday) was more simple. Didn't do much all day, but
I did go to the regular supermarket where I bought some other staples
to try to rescue the food budget issue. I ended up averaging out ok
over the four days on Waiheke, but I learned a good lesson. That
evening I was in the common room reading when some other hostelers
came in and started playing Full Metal Jacket on the VCR, without even
asking. Then I decided to give it a chance and ended up watching the
whole thing. It was a tad late (8pm) by this time, but I hadn't had
dinner so I threw together the veggie stir fry I'd been planning.
Thursday was a good day. I took the bus across the island to Oneroa,
the largest town on Waiheke. I walked up and down both sides of the
main street looking in to the various shops. Waiheke has a reputation
as being a bit of an artist's haven and I went into three artist's
shops. One guy who worked sculpture in New Zealand limestone with
brightly colored copper/enamel highlights inlaid into the rock.
Another was an incredible jade artisan. The third was less
interesting to me. After walking around I got my first NZ hamburger
(more veggies than meat, but that's ok) which they serve with beets,
in addition to lettuce and carrots. Not bad. I took the low road
(ie, the beach) to Little Oneroa just to the east. Fortunately it was
low tide or I wouldn't have made it. The tidepools were fun to watch,
though I didn't see any fish caught in any of them. In Little Oneroa
I scouted out another hostel - the Hekerua Lodge.
A small geography lesson for Medge: you didn't stay in the Waiheke
Island YHA, you stayed at Hekerua Lodge. You didn't stay in a place
with 184 steps to get to the front door. Finally, the pool at Hekerua
Lodge is not a quick hop over to the beach, it is a 15 minute hike.
On the bus back from Hekerua Lodge I met a woman named Patti. She was
the first person I had met who knew any significant amount about the
America's Cup. And, she was staying in the same 184-steps-up hostel
as me. I carried one of her bags up the steps for her.
This brings us to Friday. I slept late (10am). Ran into Patti over
breakfast and we ended up hiking through the Forest And Bird Preserve.
After which we walked along the main road towards the supermarket. We
stopped at one of the wineries (Waiheke is trying to become more
upscale with wineries, like other parts of New Zealand) for a tasting.
The Onetangi Road Winery had a fairly good Chardonnay, but I cannot
recommend the 1999 Merlot/Cabernet. We did eventually make it to
Woolworth's (the supermarket) and Patti did her shopping, and then
took the bus back to the hostel, of course going up the 184 steps. I
had a very nice dinner conversation with Patti, Jackie (and
englishwoman living in Auckaldn, NZ who volunteers for the America's
Cup race comittee) and Gisela (a nice German young woman in NZ). It
was later that night that I made a realization. For me, it takes a
few days to really feel comfortable in a hostel. The first couple of
days I don't know where things are in the kitchen, I don't know my way
around, and I feel out of place. When I first got to the Waiheke
Island YHA I felt very unhappy, since I was just leaving the Auckland
City YHA where I had spent 5 days. However, after 3 days on Waiheke I
was quite happy there. Of course, making friends can accelerate that
That was my last night on Waiheke. I took the 8:20am bus with Gisela,
Anita (a young Dutch woman) and Tim (my roommate in the hostel) which
connected with the ferry which we took to Auckland. Gisela had to
head off someplace right away, but Anita and Tim and I walked once
around Viaduct Basin. Then I excused myself to catch my bus up to
Orewa. Patti, Gisela and I had talked about maybe going on a
spectator boat ($75 per person per day) to watch one of the quarter
final repechage races, and so we exchanged email addresses.
Once I got up to Orewa I checked in to my new hostel (Pillows
Traveller Lodge) and immediately headed off to scout out the
Whangaparaoa peninsula. I took the bus out to Shakespear Regional
Park (yes, that's the correct spelling). I hiked out to the end of
one of the two points of land that should give good views of the
Hauraki Gulf. This point ended up being completly unsuitable. The
point itself was not accessible and there was all kinds of vegetation
blocking the view - it was horrible. I walked down to the beach
between the two points and sat down to rest. I got out the binocs and
I could see some of the boats mucking about, but there wasn't any
racing going on. I fiddled with my $20 transistor radio and
eventually found the right station (NewsTalk Zed Bee). Racing had
been cancelled due to bad weather - which meant I got rained on. Ok,
heavily misted on might be more accurate. I walked back to the bus
stop (the buses don't run in the park) and headed back to Orewa.
Since I was cold and tired I decided to try one of the Thai places in
town and had an excellent beef massamun curry, which was big enough to
serve for two dinners.
I stopped at the bakery once I was off the bus. Again, I got some
cheap end-of-day treats, but not free this time. This could get to be
a habit. I feel it is my duty as a backpacker to find these kinds of
bargains and exploit them, neh? Once I got back to the hostel I had a
bit of a shock. I had been put in a co-ed dorm. I didn't care much,
but I had no idea what the etiquette for this situation was. I guess
I'm supposed to do all my changing in the bathroom. Except the
bathroom is co-ed as well, and the stalls are not what one could call
spacious. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know.
Today is Sunday, and again I took the bus to the end of the
Whangaparaoa peninsula to explore Shakespear Regional Park. I went
for the other point this time. This time I got seriously drenched.
Racing was again cancelled. At least this point had some decent
viewpoints, though no place to sit. You see, this park is mostly a
collection of sheep pastures. To get to the end of the point, I had
to hike through a minefield of sheep dung. The worst rain happened
when I was all the way out at the end of the park. I took "shelter"
in the lee of a small tree. The trees were all surrounded by small
square fences to prevent the sheep from eating the trees, I guess.
Fortunately, I had taken my bright yellow rain shell, which I neglect
to bring the day before. My legs got wet, but I was wearing shorts so
my skin dried out quickly once I got back to civilization.
So, I still haven't found the perfect vantage point. This is proving
harder than I had originally assumed. At this point, I'm going to
start working my way west from Shakespear Regional Park and trying
some of the non-public lands. The towns of Gulf Harbor and Little
Manly are next on my list. The advantage of these towns is that I
might actually get guidance from the locals about places to go. The
park isn't my first choice, and the people I asked about it didn't
really know much about it, so I had to scout myself.
At this point, I'll be in Orewa for another six days. Then I plan on
taking the bus down to Wellington, the ferry to Picton, and the other
bus to Christchurch. This will all be during the break between the
quarter and semi finals in the Louis Vuitton Cup. At least I haven't
missed any race days while trying to find the best vantage point.