Brian and I spent two days on Waiheke Island, staying in a comfortable and spacious holiday home surrounded by native bush and overlooking the sea. Though New Zealand’s summer is nearly over, the weather was sunny and hot. Waiheke has a semitropical climate, lush vegetation, sandy beaches, boutique vineyards and olive groves, a friendly and somewhat bohemian vibe, and feels a world away from the mainland.
Except during Auckland’s lockdown periods we have often made day trips to Waiheke. The 40-minute ferry ride from the city centre, across a calm blue sea flanked by other small islands, always induces a sense of relaxation. Parts of my novel Cardamine are set on Waiheke and this extract contains some references to the history and geography of the island.
Waiheke holds many memories for me, some bittersweet. Stonyridge Vineyard has been our usual venue for birthday and anniversary lunches. Our group of local Bach flower remedy practitioners, now depleted by the loss of key members, has held weekend gatherings in more modest settings such as the Quaker meeting house. The sad story of my first rescue cat, Orange Roughy, had a happy ending when he was successfully rehomed on the wild far reaches of the island.
During this recent short holiday we went swimming at Palm Beach, climbed up and down a steep track for coffee and galettes in Bisou cafe at Surfdale, dined at Vino Vino and The Courtyard in Oneroa.