Waiheke Wedding

We just returned from a wonderful weekend up on Waiheke Island where we attended the wacky wedding celebration of Ingrid and Dave (aka HiDive).

Waiheke Island Map

Waiheke Island: Located 12 miles from Auckland City and once a sleepy hippy community content to live simply on a beautiful island, the last number of years have had it ‘discovered’, where now the upper classes have descended on it to build big second homes suitable for weekend living. Vineyards abound. The 36 square mile island is home to approximately 8,000 inhabitants and in summer months the population has been known to swell to 30,000. The island is gorgeous, undulating with rolling hills, beautiful white sand beaches, and views of the mainland and other islands in the Hauraki Gulf. It was the perfect place for a burner-styled wedding.

Whakanewha Regional Park

Getting to Waiheke from Christchurch took us almost five hours door-to-door requiring shuttles, flights, buses, and ferries to reach our destination. We arrived on Thursday afternoon, riding over on the ferry with bride-to-be Ingrid who had been doing some last minute shopping in Auckland. Ingrid gave us a quick tiki tour as she took us to our lodging for the next few days – the Domes which are owned by the always generous and much loved Chris (aka Kiwi). The Domes: Four separate domes make up this unique home. Two are sleeping quarters, one serves as the main lounge area, and the other contains the kitchen & bathroom facilities, all connected by an outdoor covered breezeway. It’s funky and it’s cool. (The Domes are currently for sale, so spread the word, gather up with some friends, and buy this amazing abode!)

The Domes

The wedding weekend kicked off to a good start with Ingrid & Dave and a few others popping over to the Domes for dinner on Thursday night. I’ve never seen a bride-and-groom-to-be act so chill, but that’s the kind of special people they are – really chill and really laid back.

On Friday, a contingent of us headed out to the wedding reception site, near Bottom End and Te Matuku Bay: 20-plus acres of private land, used to host festivals (check out CultureFest) and workshops. The wedding reception was going to be held here, as an all-night dance party and camping event, complete with rented tipi, geodesic dome for dancing, and an outdoor covered kitchen. We assisted Richard, the Tipi owner, in putting on the skin for the tipi – no easy feat considering the tipi was about 40+ feet tall and 30 feet in diameter. It required six or seven people to hoist the pole with the skin tied to it up into position and then several people to unfold and secure it into place. Quite fascinating.

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Once all the preliminary set up work was done, it was back to central headquarters, aka the Domes, for some relaxing and chilling as we waited for the next round of out-of-town guests to arrive. The Wellingtonian contingent, Wendy and Polly, were on hand along with Aucklander, Jonathan, aka DJ Helix. Paula & Ryan, the chefs for the event, arrived from Dargaville. Shameless Heather ferried over in the evening along with Sam and Hana. Good friend Beav flew in from one of the many countries he’d been visiting. Best friend and maid-of-honor, Michelle, a San Franciscan, had come in a few weeks before. This was evolving into a Kiwiburn/Burning Man reunion of sorts, so we did what we know how to do best – PARTY! Somewhere along the early evening came the request for some home-made absinthe which mad scientist Bruce just happened to have brought along. Hmmmm.

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No wedding day would be proper without a good dousing of rain. It rained all night long Friday and was looking a bit glum on Saturday morning. Lots of hustle and bustle and a few more drinky-poos as we all got ready for the wedding. More burners had arrived from Auckland earlier including DJ Dave, Poppy, Lilly, and Abbey. The big issue was transportation as most of us out-of-towners did not have our own wheels and the ceremony was being held in an outdoor park separate from the reception site. Kiwi & crew commandeered various friends to collect us and shuttle us down to the venue – Whakanewha Regional Park. The afternoon was glorious. The grass dried, the clouds parted, the sun came out. The Park was lovely – right along the shoreline with views of Auckland city. The ceremony was performed under a wise old Pohutukawa tree with the guests gathered at it’s base. The bride & groom arrived in HiDive’s dad’s fancy old car. The two wore gorgeous Maori cloaks for the very simple yet meaningful ceremony. Hip hip horray!

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With a few hours between ceremony and reception, many of us were dropped back off at the Domes where we packed up our overnight gear (tents, sleeping bags, etc) and mulled around while the next round of logistics was figured out. Food for sixty, twenty-five people, & gear (including a couple of couches for the tipi) needed to get to the site. Kiwi had rented a trailer which got filled and he piled at least seven people into his 4-seater truck. Remarkable. Paula & Ryan filled their car with coolers, bags of food, pots of mussels, and more and head out. Beav was at the helm of HiDive’s van which miraculously held ten or more and he was a champ, making two trips back-n-forth to the site.

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Finally we were all there! Time for the real fun to begin! The party kicked off around 6:30 pm. Paula, Ryan, Monika, Nicole and others took over the kitchen, cooking up pizzas in the clay pizza oven, stewing muscles, and grilling sausages. The generator was humming. Billy had been busy all day chopping firewood for the outdoor iron fire barrel and for the fire pit in the tipi. Wine and champagne flowed generously. Wendy brought over 200 glowsticks and donned everyone with some luminescence. DJ’s Helix and Dave manned the decks in the geodesic dome where everyone got down to house, breaks, trance, and I swear I heard a few metal tracks in there as well. Wendy also brought her home-made hoola-hoop which was a big hit with me and a little eight-year old girl who had a blast showing us her adept hooping skills. A little champagne and a shot of absinthe and I found myself happily dancing away for hours. Excellent speeches were made by Michelle, Kiwi, and Dave’s dad and an awesome three-tiered cake was made by a relative. Folks mulled about the outdoor fire or gathered in the tipi on cozy chairs and carpets.

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A large contingent left the party by midnight in order to catch the last ferry back to Auckland. I’d say at least forty people were there for the night. The rain started around one a.m. and came down for hours. People were slipping in the mud. I finally attempted to crash out around two and I say ‘attempted’ because true to a good burner party, the doof doof kept thumping all night long, pausing only for an hour around six a.m. when the generator ran out of gas and HiDive drove into town for a refill.

I managed to get a few hours sleep; several got none. The rain had stopped by early morning. People milled about as we, yet again, figured out shuttling logistics to get most people to the ferry (a good half-hour’s drive away). Newlywed Dave managed two or three shuttle trips that morning while a handful of us surveyed the site and started to clean up. It wasn’t too bad, lots of recycling to take to the dump, lots of leftover food. Gear to pack up and return. Ingrid, Bruce, Nigel, a few others, and myself were on-site till early afternoon. Finally back at the Domes for one more night, we all crashed out for afternoon naps. Tired. Happy. Fun. Dave, Ingrid, & Michelle popped over later that evening and we all had fun recapping the night’s activities. Kiwi dropped us off at the ferry on Monday morning and we said our goodbyes to Waiheke Island.

What a party!

What a weekend!

Thank you Dave & Ingrid, for finding each other, for falling in love, for doing it up Burner-style! We love you!

And so, here we are, home, tired, and a bit weary. The introvert side needs a bit of a rest up and some quiet time. Time for sleeping. Time for reflecting. We were supposed to head out of town this Saturday for a two-week scouting mission up Nelson way, to check out some land and to talk to some folks putting together an intentional housing community. But after a bit of a chat with Bruce, we decided we’re going to put that trip on hold – maybe not go till September, after we’re back from our US trip. We’re feeling a bit out of alignment and that needs to get sorted. Time is our friend, not our enemy.

I do want to give a shout out to Nigel, one of CultureFest’s event promoters and co-owner of BestInTents which does rentals of fine Moroccan tents. We spent a bit of time with Nigel over the weekend and he just about has us convinced that when we find our ‘dream property’ we should invest a few grand in a nice big fancy Moroccan tent to use as a sleep-out while we’re building our house. You’ve got to see these tents. I got a glimpse of a small one and the interiors are to die for. Rich tapestries in the finest of colors. A harem. A palace. Now that’s a sleep-out I can spend a few months in!