I’m having trouble starting this post. It all sounds a bit fairytale. We picnicked at dusk in an olive grove, serenaded by tuis….The sun toasted our shoulders as the iceblocks melted on their sticks….While the girls giggled and ran down the paths, bumblebees went about their buzz-ness in the lavender bushes that flanked them… Okay, ENOUGH. This is make-believe, isn’t it?!

Labour day weekend is notorious for promising a lot and delivering not much. The first public holiday after a long stretch, the hint of spring in the air and everyone is itching, nay dying, to get out of town and pretend like it is Christmas / summer. But most times? It rains. We all get wet and sulky and disappointed. My Dad warned me there was the possibility of blizzards, torrential rain and a plague of locusts. Expectations were middling at best.

However, on this labour day weekend, all past hurts were mended. The sun shone, quite assertively, the Entire Weekend. It made us all a bit giddy. The B’s and Matt and I piled into the car (we had packed sunscreen, snow shoes and an electric fan heater) and drove onto the ferry headed to Waiheke Island. It only takes 35 minutes to reach Waiheke’s 83 miles of pretty coastline, 25 (plus) vineyards and 8,730 permanent residents. Just enough time to feast, yes feast, on oysters, smoked fish, aioli, spinach and fresh bread. (I got a little, ahem, sunshine-induced-crazy at the seafood market right before we left.)

Waiheke sparkles when the weather is good. There is just so much beach all around and loads of great playgrounds for the little ones. The vineyards are stunning (there’s a special something about those orderly vines on a hillside like yoga addicts getting ready for sun salutes). The views are endless. The people smiley. The highlights of the weekend, for me, were mostly to do with watching the girls having the best time ever in the sand and sun. B1 had her first orange chocolate chip ice-cream, we scared monsters out of olive trees for at least an hour, they both discovered how much fun it is to jump on an air mattress and roll in the sand in wet clothes. We went to a secondhand book sale, everything for two dollars!, and managed to get out of there with only one bag of books (restraint + screeching, pulling-everything-off-tables kids). We had an edible flower-bespeckled vegetarian platter and cold chardonnay at Mudbrick Vineyard and then dashed through the lavender and french potager gardens. We bought soft, undercooked (in that awesome way) chocolate chip cookies from two girls at a roadside stall. We had a picnic dinner of fish n chips and then another, the next night, of roast chicken and coleslaw with fresh bread.  One night, as the light was fading and birds settling, we bought a 500ml tub of really good ice-cream, four spoons and dug in. In short – we ate, we drank, we conquered.

My iPhoto is now chock full of haiku worthy photos, some of which I just had to share with you. It’s all part of my grand scheme to get everyone I like and love to move to New Zealand (ahem, Ria…) which I sure hope is working. Okay, I’ll admit it – it’s not always sunny in Aotearoa. The bumblebees aren’t always fat and thrumming. We don’t always picnic in olive groves and dine amongst vines. But sometimes, people, sometimes we do…

HUGS, Hannah x