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Archive for 'Hauraki Gulf'

Waiheke Island: The Setting for Maverick Lovers

View from Waiheke looking back to Auckland

A forty-minute ferry ride from Central Auckland, Waiheke is one of the many islands in the Hauraki Gulf. It’s a popular place with daytrippers and the third most populated area of New Zealand after the North and South Islands.

The convenient proximity to the city means Waiheke residents can comfortably commute to work, and many do.

Waiheke means cascading or ebbing water in the Maori language, and interestingly the temperatures are slightly higher than the Auckland region, which makes it ideal for growing grapes and olives.

Initially, when I started writing Maverick Lovers, I was going to set my romance in one of the country towns that surround Auckland. One day when I was thinking about my setting, the idea of using Waiheke came to me, and I ran with the idea. Waiheke turned out to be perfect, giving my characters a sense of isolation, yet maintaining the small-town feel I was aiming for.

While my characters are busy sorting out their lives, they do get to go wine-tasting, to the beach, and involve themselves in local events like the weekly Farmers’ market.

If you’re interested in visiting Waiheke, these are some of the things you might like to do:

1. Go walking on one of the many walking tracks on and around the island.
2. Check out the art galleries or perhaps the sculpture walk.
3. Go wine-tasting!
4. Try some of the fantastic restaurants, many of which are part of the various vineyards.
5. Visit one of the many beaches to relax, swim, or go bird watching.
6. Water sports – diving, snorkeling, kayaking, swimming.
7. Try out the zip-line (This is relatively new and something I want to try.)
8. Go olive oil tasting.
9. Star-gazing.
10. Visit Stoney Batter – the remains of a World War Two gunnery installation.

Not visiting New Zealand soon? No problem! Go armchair visiting to Waiheke and check out Maverick Lovers.

Maverick Lovers, Friendship Chronicles 6, is due out on 1 Jan 2020. Here is the blurb:

Maverick LoversMaverick: [noun] an independent person who has ideas or behavior that differs from the norm. Someone brave and impulsive who attacks life their way.

Finding and satisfying one lover is difficult…
Adding a second to the equation is an impossible challenge

Christina: her life is spiraling out of control. Her job, her friends, and her family relationships are slipping through her fingers, leaving her achingly alone and staring into the eyes of the black dog of depression. She claws her way free, and finally, a bright spot—she reconnects with a childhood friend. Not a boyfriend, but wow! That’s the way her mind is marching now, straight to Mr. Sexy Pants.

Gabriel: he’s seeing the success he’s worked for after his parents kicked him from their home for something he didn’t do. Christina’s arrival makes him happy, makes him consider a future, a family, then Aidan arrives home. Off-balance because he has feelings for each of them, Gabriel screws up both relationships. Go him!

Aidan: Tired of traveling and clawing his way to the top, he’s come home to claim Gabriel, the man he has always loved. The only problem—while Aidan was running away, Gabriel has moved on with his life. Prepared to fight, he can’t hate the gorgeous yet troubled Christina as much as he wants.

Three lost lovers battle their way to a committed relationship that shouldn’t be possible but has the potential to cement them into a solid and unconventional team.

Learn more here or pre-order https://shelleymunro.com/books/maverick-lovers/

Walheke Walking Track

One of the many walking tracks on the island.

Vineyard view - Waiheke Island

Vineyards, Waiheke

Waiheke Vineyard

Most of the vineyards on Waiheke Island have gorgeous views over the Hauraki Gulf or the Auckland region.

Waiheke Coastline

Waiheke coast

Fun on the beach

Family friendly beaches

The beaches are lovely. Some are sandy while others are rocky. They’re perfect for exploring, swimming, and other water sports or you can just relax with a picnic and a bottle of wine.

Auckland ferry terminal

And finally, this is a view of Auckland city from the ferry on returning after a busy day on Waiheke Island. Visit for the day or stay longer. I guarantee you’ll have fun!

Fishing in the Hauraki Gulf #travel #NewZealand

A favorite activity – for hubby, at any rate – is to go fishing. We’re blessed with many choices of fishing spots in Auckland. Usually hubby tags along with his brother and they go fishing somewhere in the Hauraki Gulf.

Fishing

Here are some friends that decided to tag along.

Fishing dolphins

They like to play and take a good look. Must be a spectator sport…

Fishing scenery

When they overnight on the boat, they tuck into sheltered bays near one of the many islands in the Hauraki Gulf.

Fishing mooring

Lots of neighbors to chat with…

Fishing Allen

Then there is the fishing. The ones that got away…

Fishing Paul

And the ones that didn’t.

Do you like to fish? If so, where is your favorite fishing spot?

F is for Fishing

F

New Zealanders love their boats and fishing. Fishing is a reasonably cheap activity since you don’t need a licence, except if you want to fish for fresh-water fish such as trout.

My husband’s family are all very keen fishermen. Me—not so much. I think the sport is cruel and I always feel very sorry for the fish. Not that my feelings stop hubby’s interest in the hobby. He goes out as often as he can. All of these photos were taken on the Hauraki Gulf, not far from Auckland.

Hammerhead Shark

This is a hammerhead shark, and it was released after this photo was taken.

Baby shark

Another shark—a different variety this time—released again after the photo.

Hubby Fishing

Busy fishing. The island in the background is the dormant volcano, Rangitoto. It’s an Auckland landmark.

Hubby with Fish

Hubby with some of his catch.

SIL Fishing

And my sister-in-law with her catch.

Do you like to fish?

Gone Wine Tasting!

Today I’m playing hooky and going on a wine tasting tour on Waiheke Island. The island is a short ferry ride from Auckland city. Here are a few photos from a day trip my husband and I did around this time last year.

Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island

Beach, Waiheke Island

Vineyards & Olive Grove, Waiheke Island

Waiheke has a slightly warmer climate than Auckland and is excellent for grape growing. I’ve never tried Waiheke wines before, so I’m looking forward to my tour. Have a fun day – I intend to!

Spying on Dolphins

For years I’ve thought about going on a dolphin watching trip on the Hauraki Gulf, Auckland. I mean, it’s my own backyard and I should explore. I first took the trip in January. Unfortunately, we didn’t see a single dolphin, but I received another trip as compensation.

This time, the weather was a little overcast with rain. Hubby dropped me off at Z pier, and I boarded the MV Dreamweaver.

View from Z Pier, Auckland Harbor Bridge

The staff on board the Dreamweaver were brilliant. They were hospitable and knowledgeable about the different dolphins, whales and birds we might see during our trip.

The weather cleared and yachts and fishermen came out in force, ready to spend a day out on the water. We motored past Rangitoto Island, Auckland’s youngest dormant volcano at around 600 years old, and past several of the other Gulf islands including Rakino.

Rangitoto Island

My fellow passengers ranged in age from about three-years-old to grandparents. The kids were well-behaved—much to my relief—and they were the ones who spotted the pod of dolphins first. It was the bottlenose dolphins we saw. This species aren’t as friendly as the common dolphin but they hung around our boat as we travelled slowly along. It was a thrilling experience, looking over the bow of the boat to see the sleek bodies of four or five dolphins surfing along with us.

Dolphin pod, Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand

There were about 40 dolphins in the pod with several youngsters, almost hugging the bodies of their mothers as they swam along. We saw splashes of water when fins and tails broke the surface, and the water is so clear we could see the flashes of white bellies and their long pointy noses when the dolphins went under water. Since dolphins are mammals, they come up for air, and it was easy to hear the gasp-like sounds they made each time they surfaced.

Cameras clicked frantically, and both children and adults alike exclaimed with sounds of loud excitement. Yes, me too!

Dolphins, Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand

 

Some of the trips see orcas and Bryde’s Whales. This was the only dolphin pod we saw, but we did see several Little Blue Penguins and watched gannets fishing too. The Australasian gannets plunge into the water at great speed, making a huge splash. Over time, the gannets go blind and die of starvation. The blindness is caused by the continual diving, which damages their eyes.

It was a rewarding day, and once again, I was impressed by the beauty of the Gulf. It’s so handy and is easily accessible to all with many ferries operating in the region.

Central Auckland Cityscape

We sailed back into central Auckland, extremely satisfied customers. If you’re ever visiting Auckland I highly recommend a trip out on the harbor with Dolphin Planet. They go out of their way to make your day memorable. I certainly enjoyed my day trip.

Is there any type of animal that you’d like to watch in their natural habitat?

Women on the Move!

Our local council runs a program called Women on the Move. Each month they organize a day trip to help women get out in the great outdoors, exercise and have some fun. I took a day off writing today and joined their day trip to Tiritiri Matangi.

Tiritiri Matangi means “looking to the wind”. It’s an island sanctuary in the Hauraki Gulf, not far from Auckland. Not that long ago Tiritiri was farmed and the original forest cut down to make way for grassland. The Department of Conservation took over the island and hundreds of volunteers replanted native trees to reforest the island. All pests such as rats, cats, mice and stoats were eradicated. Once this was done some of New Zealand’s rarer birds were introduced to the pest-free sanctuary.

Before we arrived at the island by ferry we were asked to check our shoes and remove mud etc. We also had to check our bags and remove any rats or mice or other pests we found. Luckily I was all safe on that score!

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The weather has been horrid for the last couple of weeks but today it was a gorgeous morning. We walked through the bush, stopping regularly to check out the birds we saw.

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Today we saw:
Kakariki (a green parakeet)
North Island robin
Kokako (very rare)
Wood pigeon
Tui
Bellbirds
Stitchbirds
Whitehead
Saddlebacks
Takahe (thought extinct and rediscovered in 1948)
Fantails
Pukeko

They have kiwis on the island, although they’re nocturnal so we didn’t see any. They also have tuatara but the winter sun wasn’t enough to entice them out of their burrows.

It started raining just as we headed to the lighthouse for lunch. There’s a takahe called Greg. He’s 16 years old and is very bossy and cheeky. He hovered under our tables and tried to grab our sandwiches if we held them within his reach. He wandered inside the coffee shop, much to the amusement of the group of school kids and tried his luck in there before one of the ladies shooed him outside.

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After lunch we explored a little more, checking out the birds at the feeders before we headed down to the wharf to catch the ferry back to inner Auckland. I really enjoyed my day on Tiritiri.

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This is what a normal takahe looks like. They normally graze on grass not sandwiches stolen from lunch boxes.