December 5, 2012
A quiet day without a schedule. Waiting for the ferry to the Coromandel, we take a walk to Onetangi beach, which has completely disappeared. The waves swelled by the storm winds have swallowed up the entire beach. Our eyes can hardly take in the thick luxurious vegetation surrounding us everywhere we turn. If you stopped long enough, surely you would see and hear it growing.
We plan the rest of our trip in the living room, using the hostel wifi. Although we have a flight leaving Christchurch on January 3rd, we already know – having fallen in love with New Zealand the moment we set foot in Waihiki – that we just have to prolong our time here by at least a month. Why come all the way to the other side of the globe, only to race off again before even looking around, just because it’s on the schedule? Aren’t we the ones who made it? It’s unclear if we will ever be back again, so we want to eliminate South Africa from our itinerary in order to create more time here. The people are friendly and open, the country is stunning and safe, and an abundance of hostels and campgrounds with fully equipped kitchens makes traveling easy and comfortable.
The thought of being out on the road in South Africa, easy targets in a complex world of acute social inequality, is scary and highly unappealing. We’d rather go there sometime in the future on an organized tour without bicycles.
We stock up on basic supplies: oatmeal, nuts, bars, and a few quick and easy meals at the only large supermarket, stopping by Stoneyridge Vineyards – the best vineyard on the island – to do a wine tasting.
At a beautiful mansion nestled in the hills, guests are served at tables under a wine-plant covered ceiling. One of the German kids from our hostel works here, and takes special care of us. He did his Abitur last summer and is proud to have gotten an enviable position in hospitality at the vineyard. Working amongst the vines is far more back-breaking and monotonous. He is considering devoting his life to wine, something that wasn’t even in the picture before he came to New Zealand.
We sink into comfortable leather chairs in the lounge and he brings us small sips of six different wines accompanying each one – served in tiny glasses – with a professional sounding spiel about the soil, the climate and the acidity content, and drawing our attention to obscure flavors that sound refined and exotic. Never, not in a hundred years, would I have noticed or been able to articulate and describe them. We try three white and three red wines, feeling a tinge let-down after all the hype. Only the Sauvignon Blanc is really excellent, the others are mediocre and overpriced.