Great Expectations

Our cab driver from the airport and both of our tour guides suggested we use a day of our time here to visit and explore Waiheke Island. Today was the day; we took the 10am ferry and enjoyed a lovely crossing.

We’d bought the ferry/Hop-On Hop-Off Bus combo ticket; when we got to the island, we discovered that the first bus was completely full. I was ready to walk the 30 minutes to the next stop at the Waiheke Community Art Gallery in Oneroa, but the tour operator arranged for local buses to take us there, sans narration. The gallery was installing a show which will open on Friday, so we didn’t see any art! The gift shop was open, though, and we picked up a souvenir tea towel before getting onto the 11am HOHO bus.

We took the bus two stops to Ostend where we had a pleasant lunch at Cappadocia deli Turkish, finishing just in time to catch the bus to Wild Estate for our first wine tasting of the day.

The place was crowded but friendly, and the wines were quite enjoyable. We decided against trying their archery or laser clay-pigeon shooting activities; instead, we walked a few hundred meters to their nearest neighbor, Stonyridge Winery for another tasting, including their flagship wine, Larose, which they sell for NZ$400 per bottle!

I liked the wine, but not that much! We left with memories and photos of the scenery – but no wine.

We left Stonyridge and walked down to the road to wait for the next bus – which came 20 minutes early! A few minutes later, we were walking on Onetangi Beach.

We hadn’t brought swimwear, towels, or flipflops, so there wasn’t much to do at the beach but look around; half an hour was plenty of time to spend there, and we were happy to get onto the next bus for a trip to the highest point on the route, Batch Winery. None of us wanted to do another tasting, so we strolled around the property for a bit before going back to the bus stop.

We (and many others) expected a bus to arrive at 4:15. It didn’t. We found some shade and waited; the bus finally pulled in at 4:50…and it was awfully full. But they were able to get everyone onto the bus, and we rode it back to the end of the line and the ferry terminal for our 5:30 ferry to Auckland…which was cancelled due to staff shortages.

So they put us on the 6pm ferry and we got to see racing boats in action on our trip back.

It was after 7 when we got back to the hotel. None of us wanted a big elaborate dinner, so we walked a couple of blocks to New Zealand’s oldest brewery, The Shakespeare. It was crowded, but we got a table outside and ordered fish and chips and pints of their Gravediggers’ Porter.

The porter was excellent. The fish and chips were very good – when they arrived, more than an hour later, after several trips to the bar to find out what the hell was going on. If we hadn’t paid up front when we ordered, we almost certainly would have walked out!

After dinner, Diane and I went out for a walk to the waterfront; the Sky Tower was no longer pure red (I don’t know what tonight’s colors signify).

All’s well that ends well.