Friday, February 26, 2010

Three Girls and an Island

Think rolling hills. Think wide hedges and closely shorn fields of green. Think of all of this dropping away to rocky points and white sand beaches. You've reached Waiheke Island (or any number of islands in the world, actually), but my sister Elise, her friend Amanda, and I set out very specifically for this one on a Monday morning in December. And we're so glad we did.

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It became one of my absolute favorite NZ days.

We caught a ferry from downtown Auckland and gave ourselves a full day to see the island: the quiet beaches, the artsy shops, and (mainly) the wineries. Sitting down for a cup of coffee and perusing the shops took all of an hour, so we wandered down to a beach to kill some more time before tasting rooms opened/till we felt like it was late enough in the day to healthily start drinking wine.

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The wonderful thing about these two people I was with was that they were both within two years of my age - a rare experience after working and living in a community where I was most connected to toddlers, high schoolers, and moms of university students. Also, they loved photo ops, especially jumping ones and goofy ones, which gave me no excuses in my tendency to focus my camera lens more on food and scenery than people - a subject matter that still often intimidates me. It didn't necessarily make for professional material (as you will see) but the cheesiness still gave me practice. Oh, and I was back with my loverly sister again, who had been off on her own New Zealand adventure for the past two months.

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Our first stop was Mudbrick, a vineyard and restaurant boasting the most spectacular views and coziest, classy decor. As soon as we pulled into the gravel parking lot and peered through our rented old station wagon's windows, we were gushing. We oohed at the restaurant's long french-door lined wall. We aah-ed at the outdoor stone fireplace bordering the rows of vines. And, really, I don't think we shut up for the next nine hours.

We had gotten to experience Waiheke on a perfect sunny summer day, and driving through the quiet winding roads on the east side of the island as well as visiting Te Whau and Wild on Waiheke (don't judge the name like we did - or the gunmen firing laser guns at claybirds in the field next to the driveway - just drive on in and make sure to taste their beers...and ginger beer!), we snapped more pictures with our mind's eye than was possible with camera lenses and said over and over, "Isn't this beautiful?", "Aren't we glad we did this!", and "Do you think the owner of Mudbrick has an eligible son who'll marry me?"

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At the end of our day, we landed back at the vineyard we'd fallen head over heels for (do I need to say Mudbrick again?) and had an elegant dinner in a quiet dining room flooded with golden evening light. It was certainly a splurge but the experience will not be easily forgotten. In fact, I very much hope for it to be refreshed before I have to climb the steps from the car park with a stooped back and silver grey hair...or in the next ten years would do fine too, thanks.

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4 comments:

GrantJM said...

You could probably sell those photos to Mudbrick!

Michelle Stiles said...

Absolutely beautiful!!!

Rachael said...

That day will live on in Elise's and your memories forever! And the photos captured not only the beauty around you but the spirit within you, too.

elise kristen said...

what a day it was! however i'm still torn up over the lack of eligible sons... someday i'll drop the requirement that my husband must come with a vineyard for a dowry. someday.