Surfing Waiheke Island

New Zealand — By on March 29, 2011 8:23 AM


A few days before we left Sydney I logged into Couchsurfing.org to find a place to stay in Auckland. I don’t normally know where I will be sleeping when I arrive in a new place, but it is necessary to plan ahead when attempting to couchsurf in bigger cities as hosts book up quickly. My dwindling bank account always appreciates a free place to sleep (a bunk in a hostel will cost you $30/night in NZ); however, the best part about couchsurfing is not the free accommodation but the opportunity to get to know your local host and gain insight into a place you would otherwise not be privy to. Read my CouchSurfing 101 post to learn more about this new way to travel.

Accepting my surfing request was Todd, a fellow kitesurfing enthusiast who told me “kitesurfers get a clean run to stay at my place, you are very welcome!”. And welcome we felt in his very charming home on Waiheke Island, a 40-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland.

Matiatia Wharf - Ferry Station, Waiheke Island

Todd was kind enough to pick us up at the ferry and took us straight to Malcom’s Irish Pub for the Sunday Jam session in which himself and other locals perform. There we met the other two couchsurfers Todd was hosting, a girl from the states and a guy from Israel. After the Jam we all returned to Todd’s place where he treated us to an delicious bbq dinner. It was a great first day spent in New Zealand!

We stayed almost two weeks with Todd and got to  know him over our shared dinners and kiting sessions. I am doubtful another couchsurfing host will be able to match Todd’s generosity and hospitality.

I admire and respect those like Todd who have the courage to follow their dreams and not conform to what society says they should be doing instead. At 51 Todd has decided to quit his job in litigation law and follow his passion to Sri Lanka where he will be teaching kitesurfing.

Waiheke Island is exactly the kind of place Tom and I could stay for a long time. The small hippy island is absolutely beautiful with lush green landscape, with vineyards in the hills and everywhere you turn a gorgeous view.

We spent our days hiking, wine tasting, and kitesurfing on windy days.

Waiheke Vineyards

Tom kiting at Surfdale

Excited to fly my new kite!

My attempt at funding future travels …

We arrived on the island in the middle of harvest season. We decided to pick some grapes to help fund our future travels. Our new careers in fruit picking was a bust since neither of us have working visas. Oops! Originally I had hoped to be able to work in New Zealand where American’s can apply for a working holiday visa until the age of 35. Unfortunately for me I have since learned that this visa must be applied for from the states. So I won’t be able to work here which is a bummer but does allow more time to play! I am eagerly awaiting my 2010 tax refund that will be the main source of future travel funds.

We spent much of our time on Onetangi Beach, a five-minute walk from where we stayed.

Onetangi Beach, Waiheke Island

It was on this beach that we met locals Anna and Kristi who invited us into their home for tea. Ironically Anna and her husband own a yacht they plan to sail in a regatta to Fiji in May. She is unsure if her husband will take us on his boat as he is looking for a very experienced crew. She suggested that we spend the next few weeks gaining as much sailing experience as we can, and suggested that we participate in the Rum Races that occur every Friday in Auckland. Apparently boat owners are always looking for extra passengers to fill their numbers to compete in the sailing races. She provided us with heaps of information and tips as to how we can meet other boat owners and the locations of the yacht clubs we should post a notice that we are available to crew.

A few days later we spent a day around Westhaven Marina in Auckland visiting yacht clubs and gathering as much information as possible to help us in our search for the perfect boat to sail to the South Pacific. We now have quite a few leads on boats, websites to  post our availability, and learned that most boats sailing to Fiji will be departing from the far north near the Bay of Islands.

A few websites to check out if you are also interested in crewing on a boat …

findacrew.net
crew.org.nz
islandcruising.co.nz
7knots.com
crewseekers.net

The next step is to gain sailing experience as possible …

To see more photos of Waiheke Island CLICK HERE

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5 Comments

  1. Lisa says:

    Your life is such an adventure and I am always eager to see just where the wind will take you next! Just be careful and keep posting and taking plenty of pictures sot that you will always remember the great memories that you are making now. Love you

  2. Madeleine flanagan says:

    Kelly…………..I still read your blog!! It is fantastic.

  3. Kima says:

    Hello. I am thinkin about goin to waiheke island as well. Would you please tell me how to find Todd? hehe …just wanna try to be a coachsufer once in my life

  4. Hey Kelly, I really love reading your blog. It feels like I’ve been there! Waiheke Island is truly an amazing place with so lovely people. Thanks for sharing!

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