I was very excited that I had a friend from LA, Lisa, flying down under to meet up with me. She was on a bit of a time crunch but was determined to get a taste of New Zealand and Australia.
We met in Auckland. Took us no time to dive into the city. Literarily minutes after landing we were headed to a local fair to see a Maori dance performance and play some carnival games.
The next morning we were picked up by Rich, a friend of a friend from back home. (God I love getting connected with people all around the world.) He took Lisa and I on a beautiful drive north of Auckland to Karekare waterfall and then we continued to Piha beach. At the beach we walked to the top of Lions Rock and peered down across the black sand. Piha was spectacular, it had been voted the best beach in New Zealand, I haven’t seen others to compare but I could already tell there would be no contest. I hadn’t been in NZ 12 hrs and I was already falling in love.
We had lunch at the only spot down there, the Piha Café and it was delightful. I had this white chocolate, raspberry cheesecake that was to die for. We were headed back towards the city just as I finished the last crumbs of my cheesecake. Rich suggested we check out Waiheke island so he took us to the dock and we caught a ferry over.
*Waiheke island is a beautiful island 1 hour by ferry from Auckland that is populated by about 8,000 people, and most importantly made up of 22 wineries. Before making the journey be sure to call whichever winery you want to check out, this island is a hot spot for weddings and special functions so wineries are constantly closed for events.
The ferry ride was chilly, but refreshing. Once there we took a taxi to Mudbrick, sat out on the patio and tried their wine samples along with a divine cheese plate. The sun sank as we sipped our New Zealand Chardonnay, only wishing we had more time to explore all this island had to offer, with its beaches, hikes, restaurants and 21 more wineries to taste, it was a pity we only got a few hours here.
Although I took photos, I feel they couldn’t capture the tranquility of the moment. This island had such simple beauty it made you want to stay the night. We weren’t though, so it was time for us to get back to the harbor and catch a boat back to the city. For some unknown reason when we couldn’t find a taxi to hail we thought we could make it to the docs by walking. Walking turned to running, which turned to hitchhiking. Nothing like ending a great day with a little pizzazz by getting into a strangers van at night.