Waiheke Island, New Zealand
The weather was humid and balmy and New Zealand was enjoying soaring temperatures. Waiheke island, very close to Auckland, was having an outdoor exhibition called Sculpture on the Gulf, a prestigious outdoor competition on the spectacular Matiatia sculpture trail.
Waiheke Island is a haven of beautiful vineyards, olive groves and beaches, all just a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland or across the harbour from Devonport - choosing Devonport we arrived in good time. Being a public holiday, Devonport was a happening place to be; cafes, restaurants and shopping in picture-postcard ambience. Luckily, the populace decided that it was too early to be out. Good for us - no queuing. Bought the tickets to Waiheke Island and in less than 20 minutes, we were on our way on the ferry.
We passed the time away up on the top deck, in the open air - with the wind blowing the big city cobwebs away, it was a great day to be out. I've never been to Waiheke Island, even though I spent a good many years in Auckland in the early 80's. We passed Rangitoto Island. An extiinct volcano, Rangitoto erupted way back in millenia.. it has been silent since, and it now a protected a scenic reserve. Pretty little boats with their white sails were enjoying a tussle with the wind, as we passed a few smaller islands.
A peaceful haven in various shades of green greeted us as we docked at Waiheke Island. Now that we were actually here, what have I got myself into, was my thought as we alighted from the ferry. Visitors to this free event can walk the spectacular two-kilometre coastal walkway, which featured more than thirty contemporary outdoor sculptures, up hill and down dale. Hmmm. We looked up. Oh dear, is that where it is?. I had somehow expected a pleasant walk amongst the exhibits on route, a flattish path. Maybe, I should have done my homework better. Some exhibits were precariously perched on the cliff face. This is going to be fun... walking difficulties because of a stroke is a challenge enough on uneven flat-ish ground, now its steep slopes as well.
The exhibits were placed at various points on a narrow trail, winding from the where the ferry docked to up on the clifftop It was at least 50 to 100 feet upwards from the ground level up, I would have to negotiate that.
The trail went steadily upwards. With a lot of help from Murray, I managed to negotiate the tougher parts of the trail to admire the focus of exhibits, as some were playfully displayed, and others were slightly hidden away. A constant stream of visitors, in twos and threes, families with their dogs and groups, even one or two babies, all out for a bit of culture and a breath of fresh air. We inched past them as there was room for only one person along the narrowest part. No.. don't look down - it was a mighty drop to the sea, way below, amongst rocks, big boulders and a few waves.
Climbed again past huge houses, half-hidden away as we explored the headland. The trail dove to the valley. Vineyards peppered the surrounding area, and we were fortunate to see waves of verdant green vines hopefully ripening grapes under their canopy in the sun. At last we reached the last exhibit, time for well-earned rest and an ice-cream or two.
A long line waiting for the bus to Oneroa, a village next to the sea. The sand on Oneroa beach is whiter than white compared to many beaches, with only three people walking along it at the time we got off the bus. There are many galleries in Oneroa. Mental note: this is where to come for a little hideaway time. on Waiheke.
We had a look at numerous art-and-craft shoppes, then it was time to go. No opportunity to perhaps do the EcoZip adventure, which I recently heard about on Waiheke Island. It's an eco-immersive bush hike experience, suitable for people aged 8 to 88. Great, perhaps next visit.
Paper-wristbands, given to us at the start of the bus journey, were the ticket: wave them them at a passing bus, it stops to pick you up, for the return trip. Great, and just in time to catch the ferry back to Devonport. We'll come again real soon.