14.02.2015: Waiheke Island, New Zealand
Valentine’s Day at Waiheke was so calming, comforting and special, I only have good memories from this day that began with a morning jog by the Onetangi coastline. We woke up a little before 6am and took off as most of the beachside town was still fast asleep. The air was crisp, the breeze was cool, and, aside from the seagulls, crashing waves and the rustling leaves in the distance, there was peace.
One end of the beach branched into a small hike up a gradually climbing hill, where, according to Mr. Earl, there once was a landslide in the middle of the night that caused a house perched on the hill to partly collapse. Miraculously, no one was injured even though the owners were home because their daughter had the strange inkling that something was about to happen and urged everyone to get out of the house — this happened minutes before the landslide! Featured below were the views we enjoyed at the hilltop.
The morning was a whirlwind of events — After the jog, Niki and I went for a short refreshing swim in the sea — which to us seemed to have not thawed yet (it was freezing)… and just shortly later, Mr Earl drove us all to the Ostend Farmers’ Market, where we were to get breakfast while we join the rest of the island for a morning of thrifting, ice cream licking and green smoothie toasting. It was wonderful in every way possible.
I scored a lovely skirt handmade by a local designer who sources for her textile from Bali because she loves it there and a second-hand book about an arctic expedition to last me the rest of the trip.
The next part of our island sightseeing brought us to the vineyards, which seemed to go on and on till the edge of the world (or when land dipped into the ocean). Waiheke, I came to know, was a haven of beautiful grape vines and olive groves (and beaches too, of course).
Things got a little funny when Mr Earl pulled up to a place the locals call ‘the rooster corner/ colony’ — “the tour guides definitely won’t bring you here!” Mr Earl proudly exclaimed.
We learned that Waiheke Island falls under the governance of the Auckland City Council. Thus, by law, there’s a restriction on keeping roosters in residential areas due to the noise they make. Rather than get rid of the roosters, a compromise was reached and the locals created a sanctuary for them near the entrance of the Onetangi Sports Park. Members of the island’s Friends of the Roosters group visit the roosters twice daily to feed them and check on their water, and local businesses donate unwanted food.
The roosters were clearly used to visitors as they came bounding over as soon as we pulled up, flocking around the vehicle as we stepped out. I’m pretty sure I spotted some hens and ducks…
After the little escapade, we returned to the house, but not without a stop along the way to get some peaches growing on a tree by the roadside. Not many cars pass by this road, which meant that the risk of high levels of tar wasn’t present, and so we filled our hats to the brim with the ripe gems that were the peaches.
Just as the clock struck midday, Niki and I changed back into our swimsuits and decided to take Mr Earl’s paddle board out for an adventure in the ocean. We wanted to strike something off of our bucket list —stand up paddle boarding. 😉 It was tough at first, but I figured that if one just tightened one’s core, it’d get a whole lot easier, and it sure did! We went in zig zags and circles — sometimes assisted by waves — and had the time of our lives, no hurrying, no commitments.
Paddle boarding was followed by a quick lunch of a zesty tomato-avocado salad and the sweetest of sweet corns (they were in season then). Mr Earl stood up mid-meal and blasted his radio with some old classics, commenting that my Dad would’ve loved it. He asked me to put on my music, too, and we danced the afternoon away.
Mrs Jo was sharing with us some of her favourite reads (The Rosie Project being one of them) and Mr Earl tried to teach us the rules of cricket (because a cricket tournament was taking place then) when a giant catamaran rolled into our view. Mr Earl dug out his binoculars to have a look at its name — Jenny, Judy or Ginny it read. He googled it and found out that it was 1 of only 10 such catamarans in the world and it was so huge it even had its own helicopter landing deck!
Niki and I headed to the beach to read our books as wanted to give the couple a little bit of privacy seeing as it was Valentine’s — well, that and also because we were dying to try out Mrs Jo’s super cool beach chairs haha! If I had to describe the hour we spent by the beach, it’d be ‘chill’, super duper chill.
Before we left for Auckland that evening, we helped to clean up the house and consume the last bit of produce in the fridge (they were leaving too after the wedding they’re attending the day after). As we walked away from the house, we turned back one last time and I couldn’t help but chuckle at the sight of the German flag Mr Earl put up; he has always done this whenever my family comes here to visit his family. 🙂
I know it’s 1.5 years since this day, but Mr Jo and Mrs Earl, if You’re reading this, please know that we still look back to the time we spent with the both of You and smile. 🙂 It was a wonderful Valentine’s and we hope to see You both again soon!
All our love,
Nat & Niki