A House On Waiheke

Renting A House

Steve visited New Zealand in September to meet with his colleagues and lay some basic groundwork for our move in October. While visiting our friends, Mark and Marine, on Waiheke Island, he heard that the house next door was for rent. He toured the house and said, "we’ll take it". While moving to an island has some challenges, it is very beautiful here and a short ferry ride to Auckland.

Feathering the Nest

After we arrived in New Zealand, Steve and I came over to Waiheke to visit Mark and Marine, so I could see the rental house and so that we could buy that most basic of necessities, a mattress. We figured we could sleep on the floor for a few days while we figured out what we needed. Mark met us at the ferry and we drove into Oneroa, the island’s largest town and commercial center to buy a mattress. Steve and I tried several—which was pretty risky considering how tired we both were—and made our choice. We paid up and the salesperson said they could deliver it the next day (the next day??!). Mark agreed to let them into the house as we were still based in a B&B near the quarantine kennel. Our next stop was the Post Office. The postman had left a package receipt in our box and I stopped to pick up it up. My friend Judy had sent us two mugs with Gary Larson cartoons on them (messages censored). Now at least we could drink the coffee, made from a French press coffee pot that I had carried along from home.

Next purchases were from the mainland: an electric kettle, which Steve told me all "real" Kiwis had; an espresso machine; and latte bowls. I guess you acquire what’s important to you and coffee seems to be taking a leading role here, right after sleep. We could now sleep on the floor (I had also carried sheets and blankets) and get up to coffee!

Next stop was a used office furniture dealer in Auckland. Steve was holding his bi-weekly computer chats standing at the kitchen counter, not a good solution as these chats do go on sometimes. We found a large desk/table and a chair that would serve the purpose. Now we had to get stuff to the island. It’s not hard, but it is expensive.

We were mostly eating takeaway food and cobbled together supermarket meals as well as dinners out. We didn’t have anything to eat on and tried one pizza from the floor that was not too pleasant. From the local island hardware store, we bought a folding teak outdoor table and two deck chairs. Now at least we were off the floor.

Waiheke has lots of yard sales and used goods advertised in the local paper. This seemed like a good place to start, at least I wouldn't have to have it shipped to the island. I head off to see a used "very comfy armchair, Danish style $180 and original Bauhaus designer chair $70" and some other items. The young woman and her partner had decided to move to the mainland. The house was very dark inside, but I looked carefully and what I saw was an old plaid-covered recliner with serious "cat damage". I politely declined.

Laundry also became a problem quickly. There aren’t any laundromats on the island, though you can have your laundry done. We looked at used washing machines and saw some real antiques complete with ringers on top and separate tubs for washing and rinsing. We were amazed that some of these models still existed and some we were afraid to open. We opted for a new Korean machine on sale at the local department store. We had a good reason for going with a new machine (besides loosing heart about ringers and mold)—water. We get our water from a cistern and can't afford to waste it. The new models are all water-conserving. The salesperson offers to have it delivered that day (same day?!), but as we were leaving the island for the day we agree on the next morning at 9:30. And, guess what? At 9:30 the truck pulls up the driveway.

Sleeping on the floor wore thin pretty quickly. I don’t think 50-something year old backs like getting up off the floor in the morning; it seemed much easier with a 20-something back. We manage to find a slat frame that we like and, after the now-familiar hassle of getting it to Waiheke, we are grateful to be off the floor. We can now also wake up to a view of the ocean which is really wonderful. Most beds in New Zealand are slat beds; that is, the mattress rests on wooden slats instead of a box spring. It really is very comfortable.

Finally our crates arrive from Boston with a few pieces of furniture and some kitchen gear as well as computers, books, bicycles and other toys. Because we rented our house in Cohasset furnished, the furniture we shipped is mostly bookcases, desks and a few other small items, but our Rocky Bay house is beginning to feel a little more comfortable.

Next big purchase is a table and two chairs from a yard sale. I’d not been having much luck with yard sales and went to this one late and without much enthusiasm. The table was old and made of remu (a local and much prized wood). It was very heavy and was worn in the right places. They were also selling two new chairs that were comfortable and looked good enough. What more can you ask for? After shuttling around to get things loaded onto the car and back to Rocky Bay, we’re now eating at a real table.

Slowly we seem to be putting together a home of sorts. In some ways, it’s refreshing to not have so much "stuff" around, but we are now lusting after a sofa and some soft seating. I don’t seem to be able to find anything even acceptable on the island, so it’s off to Auckland soon, but I’ll enjoy the sunny, open rooms for a while longer.

We also need to get some more dining chairs. Several of our new neighbors have had us over for dinner and we're getting into serious social debt. We had Mark and Marine for dinner, but asked them to bring their own chairs. I don't think I could do this to people we've just met; it's time to look for more.

The House in Rocky Bay

Marine says we live in the ugliest house in the neighborhood. While this may be a slight exaggeration, it is true that it is not the best built house we've ever lived in. On the ground floor is the garage, used to store bicycles, of course, and the water tank. On the next level, is the kitchen/dining room and a deck. Up another flight is the living room, with a small loft above that Steve uses as an office and two bedrooms. I use the guest bedroom as my office and it has a great view. This level has a large deck that runs around two sides. The house has lots of glass and an exterior door in every room. All we need now is some visitors from home to try out the guest room!

House photos


Last update:
Monday, December 27, 2004
Copyright 2004 - Ellen Freda