Beach, brunch, and a breakdown on Waiheke

This was supposed to be the highlight of my stay in the Auckland area: a day trip to the island paradise of Waiheke for brunch at Mudbrick vineyard, an afternoon of beaches and hiking, and then dinner at Cable Bay vineyard before a sunset ferry ride home. Let’s just say that’s not exactly how things went.

By the time we docked at Waiheke wharf, all traces of the golden morning sun had been hidden behind a chilly layer of grey clouds. Fortunately I had taken the warnings of fickle weather seriously enough to bring a change of clothes: off with the shorts and t-shirt, on with the jeans and sweaters!

I picked up my rental car for the day and headed out. The car was much older than I expected and quite dusty, but it seemed to work fine. I took a quick spin through Oneroa village, with its promise of shopping to come, on my way to Mudbrick Vineyard for brunch.

All of my friends from New Zealand had said Mudbrick was a must-do for the food and views — and it lived up to expectations. Jasmine-covered cottages with giant mullioned windows overlooking an English-style garden and panoramic views over the bay? Yes, please.

Throw in an eight-course tasting menu and an adorable French waiter, and it’s hard to get better than that. The only ingredient missing was someone to share it all with.

I sat down at 11:30am and finished a little after 3pm, with an idea of spending the afternoon exploring the islands beaches, villages, and hiking trails. Alas, my car had other plans!

Completely dead. Not even a turnover when I turned the key. So I called the rental company who sent a guy to rescue me. He jump-started the car and tested it out. Seemed to work fine, so he handed back the keys and sent me on my way a little after 4pm.

First stop: the village of Oneroa, for the arts center and all those shops I had spied that morning. But guess what? Everything had closed at 4pm! So it was a quick spin past the closed-up shop fronts.

I walked down to the beach, which was also nearly deserted, but the chilly, moody weather seemed on point for the day, and I sat for a while to take it in.

I decided to fill up on gas and do a little more exploring before my dinner reservations at 6:30. But when I got back to the car, I discovered it was dead again!

By that point, I just couldn’t even. I called the restaurant and canceled the reservation and walked back to the wharf to hand in my keys and catch the ferry back to town. Natch as we were leaving the sun came out and everything on the ferry ride home was drenched in clear golden light.

I got a perfectly adequate dinner at the Thai place in Devonport and spotted a couple more houses I liked in the neighbourhood before going to bed early.

Was I disappointed in how the day had turned out? Yes, a bit. I had hoped for one of those glowing “perfect” days. But that’s not always how travel works, and I’m okay with that. I let go of what the day should have been and accepted it for what it was.

That wraps up my Auckland leg of the trip. Next up: Hobbiton and Rotorua with a Heather and Taryn and their families. Fun fun!

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