Hard to believe the semester is over and my time in New Zealand is rapidly winding to an end. I originally came to NZ with the intention of traveling not only all around the country, but to Australia and Fiji as well. When it finally became time to make the decision about what to do for the week before finals began, prices looked a little steep to travel anywhere outside the country. After talking to our program director, Kate, she suggested that we rent a house or ‘bach’ for the week somewhere in New Zealand as a group. It would be way cheaper and just as much fun, if not more!
I, as the organized one of the group, looked through tons of different houses all within a few hours of Auckland that would accommodate our large group, and finally decided on a bach located on Waiheke Island, a mere 45 minute ferry ride away from the city. Check out our bach here.
In total we had 19 people staying in the house, not all at once, but a large group all the same. Our group consisted of (here we go): Ryan, Dan, Chris, Joe C, Jess, Meghan, Caroline, Marjie, Amanda, Bianca, Tony, Grant, Leo, Rob, Gemma, Rachel, Joe S, Jannik, and I. Quite the crew!
Most of us took the 2:00PM ferry over to Waiheke, hoped in a van that drove us right to our doorstep where Joe C and Jess had their rented mopeds out front. The bach was AMAZING. The pictures from the website did not even do it justice. Let me paint a picture: Amazing view looking over the rest of the island and harbor, looking outwards we could see downtown Auckland and Rangitoto. The main house held most of the bedrooms with a grand kitchen, den, and bathrooms. We had our own heated, indoor pool, lounging deck with equally amazing views, patio, two jacuzzis, ‘man cave’ equipped with separate bedrooms, snookers table, and foosball, and a mini soccer field. We were also surrounded by 12 acres of farmland so the property was very secluded.
Our home for the week (Photo courtesy of Gemma)
Our beautiful front lawn
View from the front
View from the deck
Joe, Me, Amanda, Meghan, Caroline, and Ryan. We have arrived! (Photo courtesy of Bianca)
That’s me flailing to get the ball and Dan playing some soccer (Photo courtesy of Amanda)
Deck & Dining (Photo courtesy of Amanda)
The first day we all got settled, I walked to the grocery store to pick up some things for the week, and by the time we eventually made it back it was time to cook dinner. Monday night was burgers. We all pooled money to have communal dinners, and Caroline was the chef for this one while Ryan grilled. The homemade burgers were delicious! We spent the rest of the night soaking in the hot tub over beers and playing cards and enjoying each others company.
Tuesday, marked the day for beer olympics. We had organized the event before hand and split our group up into teams. Each group of four came up with a country or theme and dressed up according to their country. My team consisting of Tony, Joe C, Meghan, and I decided to be ‘International Waters’ which basically meant dressing in scuba gear, with hula skirts and floaties, and Joe was a pirate. Other teams themes were Ancient Greece, Translyvania, and Candyland. Pretty original I thought!
Team International Waters!
Meghan and I in our matching outfits!
I couldn’t tell you who won, the organized games got fairly disorganized very quickly. All the same we continued to relax, enjoy each others company, and enjoy the hot tub too! That night was pasta night, where Meghan made some delicious penne with marinara and parmesan cheese!
Wednesday marked the day that some of our fellow mates were leaving and heading back to Auckland. Some of the group went back into the city to catch the Dalai Lama speak downtown, while Ryan, Joe S and I decided to rent mopeds or ‘scooters’ and go wine tasting. Waiheke Island is known for its vineyards, so it only seemed appropriate that we hit up at least a few wine tasting while we were here. First stop was Mudbrick Vineyard where we sampled an array of wines- 3 whites and 2 reds. A 2012 Chardonnay from Waiheke, 2012 Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough (a region in the north of the south island), 2011 Merlot/Franc/Syrah from Waiheke, 2011 Merlot/Malbec from Waiheke, and a 2011 Syrah from Waiheke. Have to say my favorite was the Sauvignon Blanc. As we tasted the wines, the man explained the origin of the wines and the tastes associated with each one. The gardens and vineyard were beautiful, and the wines were tasty!
There’s our mopeds!
Wine tasting at Mudbrick (Photo courtesy of Ryan)
After our visit to Mudbrick, we zipped over to Cable Bay Vineyards, a short drive down the road. The view from Cable Bay was literally AMAZING! We sampled another array of 5 wines- 3 whites and 2 reds. A 2012 Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, 2012 Viognier from Waiheke, 2010 Chardonnay from Waiheke, 2011 Syarh from Waiheke, and a 2010 Merlot/Malbec from Waiheke. Here my favorite was the Syrah.
Joe, Ryan, and I at Cable Bay Vineyards (Photo courtesy of Ryan)
Joe and I wine tasting at Cable Bay (Photo courtesy of Ryan)
After our tasting, we opted to go check out the wine library in the cellar of the vineyard.
Enjoying the wine library
Barrels, barrels, and more barrels!
We decided to sampled some light tapas before returning back to the bach. Bummer the vineyards are only open until 5:00PM, I would’ve liked to have seen more! We stopped back at the bach to grab more layers before getting in some more scootering before it got dark, and then once it got dark we still continued to ride around exploring the island with the goal of getting lost…and we did! But it was so much fun. Only a few mishaps, Ryan crashed into a sign (he’s fine though, and Joe caught it on goPro so we showed everyone!), I nearly crashed into Ryan, and Joe nearly flipped, but we’re all fine and had a great time! That night we also enjoyed a delicious meal of pad thai that Amanda made. Sooo good!
Joe, Me, and Ryan back at the bach with our scooters (Photo courtesy of Gemma)
Lookin’ good on the moped! I was a natural… (Photo courtesy of Ryan)
Quick stop at the beach before the sunset. This island was paradise!
Our last full day on the island was Thursday, which also happened to be game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, which my team, the Boston Bruins, are in (and are going to win!). So, all the guys and I spent the majority of the day watching the game. Little did we know the game would go to THREE overtimes! And the Blackhawks ended up winning in the end! 😦 Oh well, Bruins still got this! We studied a bit, and once the game was over I helped Ryan make his delicious Mexican feast as our last meal at the bach. A wonderful way to wrap up our time there.
That’s me in green intensely watching the game! (Photo courtesy of Gemma)
Our Mexican feast! Mmmm! (Photo courtesy of Amanda)
On Friday morning we all gathered our things and headed back to Auckland. The memories from the bach were something I’ll never forget. I’m so glad that I was able to find such a great group of people here in NZ and share my study abroad experience with them. This was the last hurrah and the last time we were all together. Slowly but surely people are starting to part ways now, and it’s depressing. Although I am looking forward to our future reunions and visiting my new friends in their hometowns in the near future. Hey, just another excuse to travel someplace new, and I have a couch to crash on!
Off to study more for finals, one down and three to go. Tomorrow my friend Amanda from Providence, who studied in Sydney, Australia this semester, is coming to New Zealand! She’s crashing on my couch for the weekend and I have some fun things planned. Hopefully we get some good weather.
Much love, Lyssa