Just out of Auckland Harbor there are forty-seven islands. Some islands are sizeable while some are little more than rocks jutting out of the sea. The past few weeks we spent exploring two of these islands. The first being Waiheke Islands which is just fifteen miles from Auckland is covered in wineries and olive groves and is bordered by calm sandy beaches. A weekend getaway for Aucklanders, Waiheke is covered in million dollar properties and has plenty of cafes to satisfy the hordes of city slickers that throng here during the summer. Busy yes, but this place was so inviting that I even went for a swim. I have been petrified of the less than warm water since we arrived but it felt refreshing on a sunny 80 degree day. After a few days of sublime weather the wind decided to kick in and we were again stuck on the boat waiting for the wind to stop blowing so we could move on to our next destination. Weather is always on our mind here in New Zealand, as it is ever changing. It's one of those places where they say "if you don't like the weather than wait five minutes".
Finally after four or five days the wind calmed and so did the seas. We then headed out to Great Barrier Island which is the largest of the islands in the Hauraki Gulf and also one of the most rugged. It was the polar opposite of Waiheke. Most of the island is public and managed by the Departmemt of Conservation GBI has heaps of hiking trails, mostly dirt roads and no power source (besides generators). It's goergeous and a yachtie paradise. There are dozens of bays for anchoring and even at the height of summer we still managed to have some coves to ourselves. A few days it was just us and the penguins swimming around the boat. On land we hiked our butts off climbing to the highest point on the island (Hirakimata Peak) and also we rented a car one day with our friends from Irie. The island has several hot springs and we even found the irish pub for some fish and chips. What else could we want? In ten days we did not get to cover it all but we have it on the list to go back sometime soon. A few days ago we continued down the coast and we are now in a slip in the city of Tauranga where we will take a break and do some work on Scholarship. More soon and we love hearing from you all. Please remember to include your email address if you want a reply.