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Posts Tagged ‘New Zealand’

IMG_2247Beautiful Waiheke Island is just a short and picturesque ferry ride from downtown Auckland, making it a justly popular weekend and holiday destination for many North Islanders in the summer.  It’s even an easy visit from east coast Australia – an easy 4 hour flight to Auckland, jump on the 30 minute airport bus to the wharf, onto the ferry and then you are there – ready to get vertical and relax! Take note of the welcoming sign at Point Kennedy!  There are hundreds of small bays and hidden beaches tucked in around 20+ wineries, restaurants and artists studios, so even on the occasional cloudy day, there is plenty to do. There are artists studio trails and gourmet food and wine trails to follow, as well as regular sculpture festivals. Absolutely don’t miss the Connell’s Bay sculpture property in the west of the island, which you must pre-book. Reflecting this, in summer, the island population swells to 30,000 from its permanent resident population of 8,000 though to be honest, the beaches still feel blissfully empty.

IMG_2282We’ve just spent a great week there over new year, staying with friends close to the main village of Oneora, and just minutes walk from lovely Oneroa Beach.  If you can bear to drag yourself away from the water, there are plenty of short walks all over the island, many of them passing across headlands to reach secluded bays.  This one from Little Oneroa Beach (popular with the locals) heads up over the headland to Fishermans Rock and Divers Rock, where local teenagers test their mettle clambering up and leaping off 4m and 8m high rock shelves into the ocean below (at high tide only please!). Most of the island is hilly, so it’s a great place to build up your calf muscles.! The local tourist information centre has a range of free brochures with short walks you can do all over the island.

Overlooking Calypso Bay on Motuihe Island, nr Waiheke Island, NZ

Overlooking Calypso Bay on Motuihe Island, nr Waiheke Island, NZ

If you have a friends with a boat, sail across to one of the many small islands around Waiheke – we headed to uninhabited Motuihe Island for the day, moored at picture-perfect Calypso Bay and just hung out. There’s a one and a half hour circuit walk mown into the island’s grasslands, which takes you from Calypso Bay, around to the wharf and back again – there’s no shade or facilities so take a hat and plenty of water, but the views are incredible the whole way, and if you get too hot, you can always detour for a quick swim! Stealing from a well known Queensland marketing campaign ….. beautiful one day, perfect the next!

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Connell's Bay, Waiheke Island, New Zealand

I couldn’t say goodbye to New Zealand’s beautiful Waiheke Island without sharing this pristine view down to Connell’s Bay.  There are loads of tracks to explore on the Island – all with views just as beautiful as this.  However, it was good to get back home this week to sizzle in some hot weather – just in time for Christmas.  Am aiming to get everyone out for a walk after the obligatory yummy buffet lunch on Christmas Day, instead of everyone collapsing in the usual pile of ‘I’ve eaten far too much’ snores and snuffles on the couch.  Not sure how we will go given the forecast 37C heat!!
What walks are you planning for the new year?  I am heading down to Apollo Bay for a week with family and friends (including Dianne McLay, author of Brisbane’s Best Bush, Bay and City Walks) and plan to drag them off for some exploratory walks around Apollo Bay and Cape Otway, for inclusion in the Great Ocean Road walk book.  Any suggestions or recommendations are very welcome!  Can’t wait! My best wishes to all walkers and your families for a happy, healthy and peaceful Christmas!

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