Wednesday, January 22, 2014


It's my last day on the North Island.  The last three days, the weather hasn't been all that conducive to sightseeing, so I had a couple of relaxing days just reading and surfing the Net for places to stay in the next few weeks.  Since I've been moving about more frequently of late, I'm spending a lot of time acting as my own travel agent.  It was much easier when I plunked myself down in one place for a month.

Yesterday morning, the sun was shining, so Michele and I decided to take advantage of the break from the rain and hop on a ferry to Waikeke Island in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand, about 40 minutes from Auckland.  This is quite a large island with several vineyards, beaches, and coastal walks that attract lots of tourists.  

We wanted to have lunch at the Mudbrick Vineyard Restaurant, which the New York Times said was a "must see".

Michele is a vegetarian, and I decided to join her for a healthy platter of vegetarian food, which included roasted and marinated vegetables, artichoke fritters, pea and mint arancini, garden salad, cheese, crackers, bread, and tasty dips.  It was appealing to the eye, attractively arranged and decorated with colorful edible flowers, and very satisfactory to my taste buds.

This was our view as we savored our lunch and a glass of the vineyard's white wine, which wasn't up to the standard of the food, unfortunately.

The weather turned fairly abruptly from sunny to cloudly and windy--our server described this changeable condition as bipolar, which I thought was a clever term to describe the climate here.  We had planned to take a coastal walk after lunch and proceeded to do so.  This island is all rolling green hills.

Along the way, we saw this pukeko bird taking food to her two young chicks.

Then the weather changed abruptly again to rain.  We decided to hail the next taxi we saw and try to catch the 2 p.m. ferry back to Auckland.  Fortunately, even though we were out in the country, there were taxis taking people to and from the restaurant.  We caught one that got us to the ferry in the nick of time, and the driver charged us only half the meter fare....very nice woman.

I got a few very nice photos on the return trip.  There were some very large sailboats about.

This is the volcanic island of Rangitoto.

There were several small uninhabited islands like this.

Even when the weather is "bipolar", New Zealand is a beautiful country!  Today, I fly to the South Island where the scenery is said to be even more spectacular.

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