I haven’t been able to make any updates recently since I have been busy with Easter break shenanigans. Good Friday was a day to run around and catch up with some errands that needed to get done. It seemed that Lena and I were the only people around that weekend. We didn’t want to spend too much money, so we did two budget day trips for the weekend.
Saturday we woke up bright and early to catch the first Ferry to Waiheke Island. After about only a 45 minute ride, we arrived in chaos, as all the busses were leaving the harbour at the same time. They only ran hourly so we had to figure out what we were going to do fast. We hopped on a crowded bus that was headed for the main town and the closest beach on the island. We still had no idea where to get off, so we just hopped off at the first sign of civilization. The beach was right around the corner, but it was a little too early in the day and we still had a lot to see before we did some lounging in the sun. Once we got off, all of the buses flew by. We were stuck for the next hour, so we decided to go by foot. We hiked the along the main road for a little over an hour. It was sunny and hot, but scenic. I bought some honey from some guy that looked like a pirate who was selling jams and such on the side of the road. It came from Coromandel (his brother’s honey). It looked legit and home-made. (Several days later I heard in the news of an outbreak of toxic honey in Coromandel so I had to chuck it. Shame.) The journey continued to the next beach. We layed around and played Frisbee for about two hours. We then caught a bus headed further east twords the famous vineyards on Waiheke. We were ready to go wine tasting for the rest of the evening. The first wineries was great. We sampled four wines and Lena bought some amazing home-made pesto. The rest of the wine tasting turned out to be a disappointment. All of the other wineries wanted us to pay to sample the wines. Pshh! So much for a budget day. So we hopped a bus and ferry and headed back to Auckland to make dinner with the new pesto. Pictures are posted from this day.
Sunday we started the morning the same way. We got up nice and early to catch a ferry. Today we were headed to Rangitoto Island for some hiking. Rangitoto was formed by volcanic eruptions. The hike was up a mountain towards a crater. We hiked through a mild forest which would often open into feilds of volcanic rock. We made a detour 3/4 of the way up to see a lava cave that was created by… you guessed it, lava. The summit had a trail that circled the crater with views of surrounding islands and Auckland. Had our lunch at the peak and decided that we were sick of tourist hikers crowding the trail. We made the decision to take a different trail back to the pier that way we could avoid backtracking and seeing other people panting and wheezing with fanny packs. The hike back took about an hour and a half and was exactly what we expected. It was great. We got back to the pier to catch a ferry back to Auckland and once again make dinner. We were Exhausted. Pictures are also posted from this trip.
Monday – Friday was my big surf trip that I had planned long before leaving for NZ. The trip was overbooked. I was asked to drive a few people under the condition that the company rented and paid for a car for me. In return I would get a $100 discount on the trip. I agreed. Woke up nice and early Monday to pick up the car and meet the group. The guide’s name was Rangi (named after the island I had hiked on the day before… cool!) I drove 5 hours North following the van to the Northland peninsula. We made several stops along the way to pick up some people who weren’t in Auckland. We arrived at an amazing bungalow right on the beach in Shipwreck Bay. There was 11 of us including myself. I was the only American which was pretty cool. 4 Kiwis (Rangi, his wife, and two other Aucklanders), 1 Swiss, 1 Canadian, 1 Guy from Spain, 1 Taiwanese girl, and 2 Swedes. We made for a fun and interesting bunch. We got right to surfing that evening for what few hours were left in the day. I was able to get up on my board relatively easily. Man, surfing is tiring. After a few hours we were all beat. It rained the whole next day. But no mater, we surfed all day anyway. No sunburns and fresh water coming down was refreshing while spending all day in the ocean. By the end of day two everyone was able to get up constantly in white water (the wave as it foams after it breaks.)
Day 3: more of the same, I started learning to hit some bigger waves and control the surfboard well. After a 3 hour surf session, we did some skirfing. There was a small stream about 100 yards up the beach in the sand. Rang puled the truck onto the sand and tied a rope to the back. We basically did what resembles wake boarding in this stream but behind a truck rather than a boat and on a short surfboard with no bindings. I was first up and got it down pretty quickly. I got to drive the truck for everyone else. Makes me miss my rover back home. Thursday I started to get ambitious and pushed myself to catch the bigger waves before they break. It was a painful and frustrating day. I was not able to stay up. I did learn to surf backwards and do a headstand on the surfboard! That night we had a dance party in the bungalow. Fun times. Friday morning we went out for one last surf session before heading back to Auckland. I was determined to catch the waves I had been trying so hard to get. I was able to catch two of them and ride them to shore. Good way to end the week. Pictures will be up shortly. Check back for them.