It’s always delicious, that feeling of getting away. And luckily in Auckland, it isn’t that hard. Thirty minutes’ drive will get you to a patch of green or blue you can call your own for a short time. Somehow it’s even more refreshing when you get to go by boat. Everyday stresses and cares are tossed to the wind, carried by the gulls and churned behind you in the wake of the car ferry as you literally leave the city behind.
On the Waiheke passenger ferry, cardsharp commuters mingle with students, fascinator-wearing wedding guests, anoraks and hardout alternative lifestylers for a 45 minute journey to another place. Friendships are struck up over mongrels and labradoodles alike on the back deck and there’s always a feeling of freshness and transition.
So, imagine one day if your parents were to say to you: ‘We’ve found the perfect Waiheke section to build our bach at last!. It’s steep, covered in bush, inaccessible by road and requires a 10 minute walk-in by a steep zigzag track!’ Naturally the only possible response is ‘fantastic!’. Not everybody has the good fortune to have parents with a house near the beach, and it isn’t something to take for granted.
Now that we have three children who can walk, talk, swim, and (theoretically) hang up their own towels, the magic of this house nestled among the trees become more evident with every visit. They can trot down to the beach, through the flax, past the serried ranks of orange sea kayaks and aluminium dinghies, all on their own now. They know about lifejackets and how to mess about in boats. They can spend long hours ignoring sunscreen advice and finding beach treasures such as the crab pincer above.
Their childhood memories are being formed there. For our eldest, this is the spot he thinks of when asked to picture his ‘happy place’.
Here, we get to create our own traditions, such as ‘Grandad tries to sneak out on his own for the paper‘, ‘breadmaking one-upmanship‘ and the time-honoured ‘we kayak to get a samosa‘. Nobody, but nobody, will spend longer in the water with our boys than their Grandma, and they get the chance to pick beans still sun-warm from the row with their Grandad.
I think that like a lot of parents, our jobs have often gotten the better part of us, first in our own business and then as part of a larger company. Our children pay the price for that. The small distance between our home and Hekerua Bay allows us to reframe and refocus. We need to do that a lot more. Thanks Mum and Dad. x