When my parents made the decision to emigrate to Canada in the mid-1970s, our other option was Australia. After visiting New Zealand, I’m now of the mind that they could have split the difference by moving to New Zealand and getting the best of both worlds. Don’t get me wrong, I love Canada, but when it snows in New Zealand, it is polite enough to contain itself on the South Island and you can avoid it entirely by heading to the North Island. Perhaps best of all though, New Zealand has places like Waiheke Island.
I have, on occasion, wondered what other countries do that is the equivalent of Canadians “going to the lake”. In the case of New Zealanders, or rather, Aucklanders, it is heading off to Waiheke Island. And why not? Waiheke Island is pretty amazing from its scenery to its wineries. It would be paradise for a tri-athlete; miles of beaches for swimming, plentiful paved roads with bike lanes and mountainous terrain to challenge diehard runners. If that wasn’t really your thing and you were looking for something a little more laid back, there are breathtaking vistas, quiet country lanes, a plethora of beaches, thriving arts community and wineries—-lots and lots of them. Waiheke Island wineries produce some of the best wines in the world and the price, ahem, let’s just say they are well aware of their value. Perhaps the best part of all of this is the wonderfully efficient public transit system that conveys you from winery to winery in a safe, non-DUI fashion. Sounds and really is, almost too good to be true. Remember that part I mentioned about going to the lake?
Imagine everyone in your city deciding that they would pretty much all go to the same lake for the weekend. Now, imagine, instead of a convoy of trailers heading down the highway, a flotilla of yachts, dinghies, powerboats and ferries setting off to one relatively small island for the long weekend. During most of the year, Waiheke Island has a population of under nine thousand people. On holiday weekends, the population swells to an average of 45 000. The influx is so great and in such concentration that the ferry terminal in Auckland provides up to the minute information to the Waiheke transit service of the number of people on each ferry. In Oneroa bay, there can be over 150 boats moored on a holiday weekend, where normally there would be less than a dozen. If getting away from it all for the weekend was your plan….
Overall, Waiheke is fabulous, I would return in a heartbeat. Heck I would even consider moving there if we could scrape up the 1.2 to 3 million asking price for modest a home. Hmm, perhaps not.