Big Bucketlist Tick: Swimming with Humpback Whales

Big Bucketlist Tick: Swimming with Humpback Whales
As wonderful as life on Waiheke in the winter is, it is also great to get away to warmer climes.  This year we were lucky enough to journey to Vava’u, in the beautiful Kingdom of Tonga, and swim with humpback whales.
Between July and October each year, the humpback whales migrate from Antartica, where they feed, to the warm and sheltered archipelago of Vava’u in the Kingdom of Tonga.
This is longest migration of any mammal and the humpbacks undertake this massive journey of 5000+ miles to mate and give birth to their calves.
From our boat, we had plenty of sightings of whales breaching and playing but nothing could prepare us for our close encounter.
Initially we were nervous about entering the water with these gigantic mammals and there is nothing that can prepare you for your first sighting underwater of a humpback mother and calf.  Often there are larger “escort” males who swim with the mother and calf, and, in our case, the large male would lurk below and then suddenly surface close by. At one point, we just saw a large EYE only meters away, as it surfaced alongside the mother and calf.
Swimming with the whales is very carefully monitored and restricted to experienced and authorised operators.  Only 4 people at a time are allowed in the water at one time and you are not allowed to touch the whales.
The females, known as cows, are 16 metres in length and weigh up to 45 tonnes.  Their young, when born, measure 1-2 meters but they grow rapidly on their diet of rich mother’s milk.  The calves must surface every 4-5 minutes and are very curious.  They will roll on their backs, practise tail slapping and are constantly reassured and nudged by their mothers.
If you are planning a trip to New Zealand, including Waiheke Island, in the winter months, why not explore some of the tropical Pacific islands on your way?  And what better than a “bucket list” adventure with these gentle giants of the ocean?

Family Favourites on Waiheke this Labour Weekend

Family Favourites on Waiheke this Labour Weekend
For some of us, a romantic weekend or an island wedding  is a distant memory.  For most busy parents, a long Labour weekend is a welcome respite in the last term of the NZ school year.
And if you are looking for the perfect getaway for the family, there is plenty to do on Waiheke.
White Sandy Beaches
The beaches are pristine on Waiheke and for those of us game enough to brave the spring water temperatures, Waiheke beaches are the place to be.  Luckily, that is most often the kids, and they will love it. Some of our favourite beaches are Oneroa, Little Oneroa (includes small playground) and Onetangi Beach.
The Ferry Ride
Don’t underestimate the fact that for children, the whole adventure will begin the minute they step onto the ferry.  Only 35 mins from downtown Auckland, it will be over very quickly, but there will still be time for parents to enjoy a glass of something cold!
Wild on Waiheke 
Wild on Waiheke has something on offer for everyone. Located in a vineyard, there is even a craft beer distillery. Children will not be bored: There is a field for volleyball, Claybird laser shooting, a playground, petanque, giant outdoor chessboard, and, in the style of Hunger Games, archery.
Eco Zip
EcoZip Adventures has been operating for more than three years and has created a wonderful day for the more adventurous.
There are three “zip lines” or flying foxes that run down the valley, at different levels and speeds, depending on your courage levels.  The ride is exhilarating, the views are spectacular and the walk back up through the native bush is gorgeous.  Well worth the effort and outlay.
Food fit for the family
From our Cottage, it is an easy 5 minute walk down to Oneroa village where you can find plenty of food options to feed the hungry family, including pizza, fish and chips, Indian and Thai food.
Slightly further along at Little Oneroa Beach, you will find Dragon-Fired Pizza, where you can order your pizza and sit on the beach.  The kids will love it.
If you feel like staying in and cooking, Cloud Nine Cottage has a fully-equipped kitchen and there is wonderful provisioning within walking distance in the village.  Grab a bottle of wine and some shopping and enjoy your own food and the views from the deck.
Waiheke Cinema
If the weather “turns to custard”, a popular place to head with kids is the cinema.  Situated 3 minutes walk from the cottage, this charming boutique cinema has 15 comfy sofas and a lot of charm.  It is best to ring in advance and book your tickets, especially if it is raining.
In short, you and your children will not be bored. Our beautiful cottage sleeps 4-6, including a charming sleepout, which young teens love!  For younger children, there is a portacot, safety gate for the stairs and a safe deck area.
Things to do:

Tel (09) 372 5646

Tel (09) 372 3434
Tel (09) 372 4240
Dragon Fired Pizza Little Oneroa Beach
Text orders to 021 922289