Despite all the time I spent in New Zealand during my first trip, I never got around to visiting one of Auckland’s nearby islands. After leaving Balclutha, I decided to give Waiheke Island a go. Waiheke is famous for its many vineyards, and I thought why not spend a sunny day with the grapes?
It was easy enough to catch a ferry from downtown Auckland over to the island. The weather was fine, which made the ride very pleasant. The ferry pass also allowed me to hop on local buses to get from place to place. However, they didn’t go into the vineyards so sometimes it was a hike to get to the tasting rooms. But, the walk usually took me through rows and rows of grapes.
After a few tastings, I hopped on the bus and headed over to the beach to relax for a bit. It was empty considering it was a sunny day with blue skies. The only people around me were other tourists.
Before long it was time to hop on the ferry and head back to the mainland. Waiheke Island is an easy day trip from the city and makes you feel like your miles and miles away.
Another day out with Marilyn and Shawn finds us stopping at a small coffee shop with these curious creatures grazing at the pasture out back. I don’t know if they’re alpacas or llamas, but they’re both still babies and they’re incredibly cute.
After oohing and ahhing over these cuties, we hit the Southern Scenic Route looking for our next adventure. We decide to have a look at Cathedral Caves, which turns out to be a wonderful decision. After a short walk through native forests and across the beach, we stand inside a cavern with incredibly high-ceilings. The caves are only accessible during low tide.
Our next stop is Curio Bay, where there is a fossil forest that is easily viewed at low tide. Millions of years ago, a forest flourished in this area. After several volcanic eruptions cast debris over the forest, the trees were turned into stone. Today you can see remnants of the forest amid the tide pools.
After a wonderful day out, we head home but stop at the local Chinese restaurant for some takeaway. A quick and easy dinner, the three of us are happy to plant ourselves in front of the tv for a night of movies or more episodes of The Big Bang Theory.
When I traveled through the South Island in 2011, I never really got to experience the far south. I had come down with a bad cold that took me out of commission for several days. I was useless and barely made it out of the bus to see the sights. Upon arriving at the hostel, I would jump into bed and try to sleep as much as I could.
This trip Marilyn and Shawn took me to Nugget Point Lighthouse to look at the resident seal colony. When we got there, the huge animals were lazing in large groups along the rocks and shore or frolicking in the water. We even saw some in the middle of waves as if they were bodysurfing. Even though they were far away, we were delighted to see many pups in the mix. It was encouraging to see so many of them playing in the water.
Despite our brief training at Pohatu Penguins, Marilyn and I failed to find any penguins. I don’t know if penguins are living in this specific area, but I doubt they would congregate so close to potential predators. Still, it was fun to try to spot them.
Around the corner from Nugget Point, we popped by an area where Yellow-eyed Penguins are known to live. Unfortunately, we weren’t there at the right time of day. Penguins are at sea most of the day looking for food. They return at dusk and roost for the night like other birds. With many hours till sundown, we decided not to wait for them to return home and decided to head home ourselves.