The day before the wedding, Mary and I explored the Eastern end of Waiheke. I suppose the woeful state of the roads in what is legally part of the city of Auckland is some sort of social engineering mechanism to keep the peasants at bay. Well it got us to at least one bay – after 20 km of narrow, uneven edge-crumbling single-lane road we arrived at Man o’War Bay. There is a restaurant vineyard and upscale accommodation, but we were just touring. The view to the East is delightful on such a day as this. Tarakihi Island and Pakatoa are in the foreground with the Coromandel Peninsula a hazy blue in the distance. We completed the loop back to the suburbanized part of the Island and had a picnic lunch on a quiet part of Onetangi Beach.
Mary did a long walk in the afternoon while I explored some of the bays and side roads near our accommodation. Somewhere above Kauaroa Bay, there was a long view back towards Auckland City. Just above Brown’s Island the Sky Tower and Auckland’s high-rise buildings were visible through the wind-driven salt haze.
The day of the wedding was fine and calm. It was an absolute picture post card day, and all that any bride could wish for. Our niece, Jo married Neil in a nice lodge above Palm Beach in a joyful ceremony combining his Indian and her Kiwi heritage. Their ceremony was a happy mix of tradition and modern elements, and the hundred or so guests from near and very far were treated to some wonderful hospitality as they celebrated with Jo and Neil. We were privileged to be there.
Mary and I left younger guests to carry on and went back to our accommodation about 8 km to the East. As we get near to our Summer solstice, the sunsets happen late in the evening and this view from our balcony looking back towards Auckland brought the day to a perfect close.
The next day we began the journey South and after a coffee with the happy couple, and Jo’s dad, Mary’s brother and his wife, we went to wait for the ferry at Kennedy Point. Summer comes to Auckland early and perhaps even earlier to Waiheke. Pohutukawa were in prolific flower, and I was happy to see what I believe to be many feral honey bees. Then we drove across the South Eastern suburbs of Auckland and onto SH1, all the way back as far as Tokaanu.
Next morning, the last day of our round trip dawned soft and grey over the lake. There was no wind and the lightest of drizzles. The old Tokaanu wharf seemed like a place to start. The Southern end of the lake was covered with black swans grazing on the weed below. There were scaup and dabchicks, shags and swallows and in the reeds behind me I could hear bitterns booming. Spoonbills flew overhead and it was just a wonderful place to be.
Despite its somewhat rickety state, I braved the wharf and walked as quietly as I could along its ancient creaking structure. Occasionally a scaup would emerge alongside me from a long dive, take a moment to realise that there was a human very close before squawking and flapping off.
Another frequent flyer in the neighborhood was the Welcome Swallow. They flit about with regular changes of direction harvesting airborne insect, and then resting on the wharf. This one was as close as it could be while still in focus, but for some reason when it flew it came towards me. It would have been a great shot if it had not come inside my focus ability.
And then we drove home.