We're currently anchored in Oneroa Bay on the north side of the very beautiful Waiheke Island which is out in the Hauraki Gulf, just outside Auckland Harbour. We've had a week of hot sunshine and no wind (even after living in the tropics we've discovered that the sun is ultra-powerful here; no ozone left above NZ or something, so it's really easy to get sunburnt) but there's a weather front coming over us later today with possibly Force 7-8 south-westerlies and rain so we'll be battened down in an anchorage giving good shelter (we hope!) from the gale.
‘Oneroa City’ as the bus driver announced it, is the main town on the island and is very ‘nice’ (full of trendy cafes and restaurants as this seems to have become the place to have your holiday home or even commute into Auckland - 35 mins via the fast ferry) and of course there are all the wineries on the island to visit (thirty or so at the last count). The Christmas decorations in the shops take a bit of getting used to in mid-summer though. It's at these times we really miss our UK friends, but not the weather. Having lived in sunshine for the best part of 18 months, coming back to winter (when we eventually do so) will definitely be a shock.
We did a wonderful coastal hike around the NW corner of Waiheke Island a couple of days ago, checking out the very expensive holiday homes en route.Unfortunately the 'new money' that has bulldozed the old quaint bach's (traditional wooden holiday shacks) hasn't resisted the temptation to let modern architects build something that looks like a gun emplacement with randomly-added wood, stainless steel and plate glass. Graham remembers a Rowan Atkinson sketch from his 'Live in Belfast' LP (yes, that long ago!) where he was a grumpy old man who said; "Modern architects, scum of the earth. Whatever you ask them to design, they come up with something that looks like a dustbin with an old bicycle hanging out of it." To be fair, some of the houses were stunning but most of the others must be much better when seen from the inside.
Yesterday we visited the very posh Mudbrick winery and had a tasting and delicious salad lunch out on the patio, followed by another energetic hike along the coast.
We've booked Maunie into the vast Westhaven marina, right next to the Auckland Harbour Bridge, for a couple of weeks over Christmas and New Year (amazing value at around £13 per night, compared to the rip-off Britain prices). The long-term forecast suggests some more incoming weather fronts with strong south-westerlies over Christmas and we don't want to be worrying about the boat at anchor in our festive alcoholic stupors, particularly as all the best anchorages in Waiheke will be full of inebriated Aucklanders in their motor boats anchoring much too close to each other - they are known here as JAFAs (just another f***ing Aucklander). We're staying with Ian and Trish back in Waiheke over Christmas so after a few days exploring the city will get the 35 minute ferry back here on Christmas Eve ready for the BBQs and Christmas carols!