June 13th, 2016
Uncharacteristically, we woke up early to “hike” mount Eden (I use quotations as locals considered this a stroll up the hill). After a quick Uber ride, we reached the base of mount Eden. Children in uniforms quickly walk past us on their way to school and point us in the right direction. Right away we notice that the hill sides are very green, something we are not used to living in Southern California for the past year. Runners zoom past us as we walk up the hill, clearly we were not in shape for this. After a couple breaks, we reach the top of mount Eden and are graced with the beautiful Auckland skyline with the Skytower and harbour in sight. We didn’t know what to expect but Mount Eden turned out to be a gem.
After working up quite an appetite, we made a quick descent and find an Uber. As we talk to our driver, we learn that she is of Maori origin (Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand). She surprises us by saying “Mera naam hai Mabel” which means my name is Mabel in Hindi, which she states perfectly. We convince her to teach us a Maori phrase “Ko insert name Toku Ingoa” which we were definitely butchering. After an interesting uber ride learning about the Maori people, we head down to the Viaduct Harbour for some brunch. We made our way over to a collection of restaurants/bars that are in the shape of a boat. Of course I need my morning coffee to fuel me for the rest of the day.
With not much going on in the city during winters, we decided to explore the nearby islands. We headed to the Quay Wharf for a ferry ride to Waiheke Island, the highly regarded island off the coast of Auckland. Aboard the ferry, we try local beer which goes perfectly with our boat ride.
We arrive at the dock in Waiheke in 30 minutes and realize why locals consider the island worth visiting. The emerald hills and sapphire blue water make Waiheke the perfect getaway, not to mention the vineyards and cozy coastal towns. As we had limited time on the island we decided to rent bikes in order to get around the island quickly. The lady at the counter warned us of the hilly countryside but clearly we were swept up in the beauty of the island and didn’t realize what we were getting ourselves into. About 5 minutes into the bike ride, I need to stop as we are riding uphill and I am very much out of shape. Sanchit rides up the hill like a champ, as I slowly walk my bike up the first of many uphill stretches to come.
We arrive at the first beach and stop for some pictures. Breathtaking views remind us of the paradise to come and we are excited all over again. After a grueling ride with a couple of wrong turns, we finally make it to palm beach which again is absolutely gorgeous. At this point we are very hungry and tired but we hold out for this tapas restaurant in the vineyards that the bike rental lady tells us about.
Around 5 pm we finally make it to the tapas restaurant only to find it closed. At this point the sun is starting to set (it is winter in New Zealand) and we start to get nervous as we are in the middle of Waiheke island with our bikes and night quickly approaching. We are thinking of all the possible ways we could make it back to the ferry port before the last ferry departs the island. Luckily we are able to find a taxi driver that tells us a bus will be able to attach our bikes and take us back to the port and that the bus would be arriving in the next 5-10 minutes. I have never run as fast with my bike in tow to make it to the bus. We meet a rude bus driver that is extremely annoyed that we don’t know how to use the strange yellow contraption at the front of the bus to secure our bikes. After 5 minutes of struggle, we attach our bikes and are on our way. Lesson learned, when the bike rental lady tells you the journey is difficult, definitely listen to her.
A tiring day but highly recommend a day trip to Waiheke Island for anyone visiting Auckland. Oh and get a day bus pass instead of renting bikes…