It’d been 8 long months since I’d last seen Bodhran, but my friend Amber was up from Christchurch visiting Auckland so I decided to join her and her friends Sarah and Tiddy for a few days sightseeing and hanging out before taking the trip up to Whangarei and my poor neglected boat.
We started out searching for something that I hadn’t really found yet in my previous trips to New Zealand…good food. Apparently I hadn’t been looking in the right places. The first night in town we had some fantastic tapas at a Spanish restaurant on the same block as the Sky Tower. The next morning we set out to dangle Tiddy from a bungee cord off the Auckland Harbour Bridge. Amber, Sarah and I all joined him for the walk out the bridge to the pod below the bridge deck. It was a bit silly to harness up and tether in to take a leisurely stroll out along a well railed walkway out to the middle of the bridge, but welcome back to New Zealand. It’s turning into a bit of a nanny state. Oddly enough we weren’t tethered in at the very end when we climbed the stairs up to the jump pod hmmmmmm.
We next hopped on a ferry out to Waiheke Island, famous for it’s many vineyards and just a short trip from downtown Auckland. Amber found a spectacular bach just up a short walk up the hill from Rocky Bay. We had a quick dip and lie down on the beach before heading off to the Mudbrick Vineyard where we did a bit of tasting and had some more very tasty food. I’m normally more a red wine drinker than white, but I’ve found that I prefer the Kiwi whites to the reds and Mudbrick’s were no exception. Still I’ll be drinking most of my wine from a box during my stay here.
We spent one night on the island and then went back to Auckland for a stay in a sweet condo right downtown. That day’s mission was to find a tattoo parlor for Sarah to get a little memento to take home with her. It took a bit to find the right place and we had to stop by the little convenience store with a patio for smoking hookahs out front. Not exactly a smoky den, but it was still a fine place for my first time smoking a shisha. That night we found another fantastic restaurant for some Vietnamese food. The food didn’t come cheap, but I’m officially changing my opinion on Kiwi cuisine. There are some great eats in Auckland at least.
After 3 days in Auckland, I finally hopped on a bus up to Whangarei to rejoin Bodhran. I rounded the corner to the marina office and couldn’t believe that Bernardo, off Albertina, was sitting on the bench out front. I’d first met Bernardo back in Tonga in 2008. He circumnavigated New Zealand in 2009 and I thought that he was off on his way to points further West last year. It turns out that he had sailed on to Australia, but returned after being disappointed by the country and shocked by the prices. He’d already been all the way around New Zealand, but still decided to backtrack 1000 miles across the Tasman sea rather than spend the season in Australia. I’d heard about the cost of living in Australia and was a bit concerned about heading over there this year myself, but now I think that I’ve officially ruled out heading over to Oz myself. I still don’t know exactly what I’m going to do. For the meantime, I’m back on Bodhran working on cleaning her up. There was mold and mildew on all the surfaces except the ones that I painted or varnished last year. I’d sprayed everything with vinegar last March before I left. I guess that that officially doesn’t work. I’ll be hauling Bodhran next week and will probably spend at least a month working on her.
More on Whangarei next blog post. Here’s some more pics from Auckland with Amber, Sarah and Tiddy: