The great thing about Auckland is that it is easy to escape Auckland, without going very far away at all. There are several islands just a short ferry ride away from the Auckland central business district, and yet they feel like you are in a completely different part of the world.
One such island, one of the larger islands, and one with permanent towns and development is Waiheke island. It is pretty much my definition of paradise. Small towns, deserted beaches, well preserved wilderness, and vineyards. So many vineyards.
Joe and I met at the ferry terminal bright and early in the morning and caught the ferry. On the way, as the Auckland skyline faded into the distance I arranged with a local to rent a scooter for the day.
We were picked up at the ferry terminal and driven into the nearest town where our scooter was waiting. After some paperwork and a small test run by Joe before I hopped on, we were on our way.
Our first stop was to Rocky Bay where we found the best ever wild camping site after a short bush walk. Upon returning to the scooter and having a small panic after having some troubles getting the motor going again, we were soon on our way. Next stop…. a vineyard. And on Waiheke island, there are plenty of vineyards to choose from. After saturating ourselves with wine (but not too much wine for Joe since he was the driver) we went on the search for a tapas place that was recommended to us by the guy at the scooter rental place. It was absolutely amazing and of course, we had more wine.
The rest of the day was spent exploring all the roads and points and beaches of the island. Which isn’t hard to do in just one day if you have a scooter. My all time favourite beach however was Palm Beach. There was a pretty rowdy party going on at one end of the beach, but at the other end it was pretty much deserted. After soaking up the sun we did some more exploration, had a picnic, and a nap at yet another beach.
On our final course of scooter assisted exploration we came to a steep hill where two people were chatting at a picnic bench. We stopped to take in the views and ended up in conversation with the others there. One of the people there was Reece, an English guy who had recently come to New Zealand on a working holiday visa. After some chatting we exchanged contact details, and Reece will become a central character in some of our later adventures.