Sunset Beach was not the draw, nor the view from the Lighthouse, as the weather was wicked. But the diversity and hospitality of the men and women business owners I met on the Rainbow Road to Waiuku, Tuaka and Port Waikato was sunny and warm.
Any closer and I could have slept in the sea, when I stayed at [email protected] overnight to delight in luscious organic gardens and walk to through their lush banana plantation on the way to the estuary. This is a fine example of a permaculture property, not to mention spirtual place to getaway from the stress of city life.
I did not alight from my cosy car (from Jucy Rentals) at the wet Manukau Heads lighthouse, but forged onto Awhitu's vineyard for some fine wines with views to match. I stayed close to the fireplace, chatting with Dave, the winegrower, as we discussed his spicy syrah.
The drive to and around Awhitu Pensinsula was about 1.5 hours, and I was surely missing my motorscooter on those wonderful hills and curves with distracting views (between raindrops).
On the way back to Auckland, I stopped to visit the family and baby-friendly homestay at Port Waikato, just minutes from Sunset Beach. Kim and Andi operate 881 Homestay, an eco-friendly rural hideawsay about 45 min. drive south of the airport. A lot of lesbians like to visit just to talk babies, as the couple is about to add the second daughter to their family.
Their homestay is a separate wing of the house, with views from the hammock to the paddock. Large enough for a couple and a baby. They provided me and every guest or wwoofer complimentary high tea on arrival, and an organic breakfast is included in the tarrif.
The "girls" wisely suggested I drop by to meet "the boys" in the next village of Tuakau. They own Cafe Kaos and Blue Orange art gallery. I smiled at the well-trodden rainbow welcome mat as I introduced myself to Elton and Stuart. Artist Stuart is proud of his studio, which exhibits local and international artists and doubles as an event venue in the centre of main street for a little "Cafe Culture in the Heart of Tuaka."
If you want to try out NZ's longest fishing river or just sip on a latte or write your novel, the Waikato region is a great destination. I'll be back!