So….after a number of years we made it back to Auckland. We were trying to work out when we were last in NZ. We think it must be about 8 years ago – where has the time gone?
Now that we have time, we were keen to spend some time catching up with our friends Dave & Ronelle who we have known since our Uni days. They moved to NZ around the same time we moved to Oz, over 20 years ago. We had an opportunity to spend about 2 weeks with them and their daughter Stephanie. It was fantastic having time to have wide and varying discussions, some reminiscing and great getting to know Steph. Unfortunately we could not see their son Jared who is currently away studying at Oxford – yes, in the UK.
We arrived just before a public holiday, giving us the opportunity to head off to Tawharanui, a beach reserve a few hours north of Auckland. We left early and had great weather. It was nice and relaxing and included a long walk along the beach. By the time we left at lunch time the crowds had arrived and the beach was getting full. On the road out it was bumper to bumper traffic for kms with people trying to get in. We stopped off at a little known but fabulous place for wood fired pizzas – YUM.
During the week we enjoyed long runs and walks exploring the area around Red Beach and Orewa. This is a great part of Auckland. If you asked us for our key take away from our time there it would be – everywhere we went people greeted us, looked us in the eye and smiled. This included all the kids. Sadly this rarely happens in Brisbane and even less so in Sydney 🙁
The other thing that struck us was the price of food. Given the relatively small population, the prices were generally lower than in Australia, even in the city. Coffee was a bit more expensive – and most people drank it out of bowls. A piccolo in Auckland was often the size of a regular flat white in Sydney.
It just so happens that one of the park runs is held close to where we were staying and we had an opportunity to complete the run on 2 of the Saturdays. The first one was very wet with it raining. The next week was great weather. The Park Run concept is fantastic with free 5km runs across the world. Check them out @ http://www.parkrun.com/
On one of the days we took a trip into the city where we noted that there has been a lot of development going on since we last visited. We enjoy boats and marinas and so a walk along the waterfront was a highlight. We admired the beautiful wooden boats and some of the nice yachts. Auckland has made great use of the waterfront space. We used the opportunity to get a ferry back to Gulf Harbour which was only 10km from ‘home’.
Dave is a keen boatie and fisherman (he also volunteers with the coastguard). Dave kindly took us out for a day on the water showing us some of the islands. We enjoyed a walk on Kawau Island. Mansion House on Kawau Island is a house that was owned by Sir George Grey from 1862. Grey had a keen interest in the natural sciences and in horticulture, and was an enthusiastic collector of plants and animals from around the world. Between 1862 and 1888 he spent a fortune developing Kawau as his island home, planting hundreds of different plant species and introducing many exotic and native animals including wallabies, kookaburras, weka, peacocks, zebras and monkeys. The exotic animals are no longer around but we did see peacocks (& peahens) as well as kiwis (the winged variety).
On the way back Dave did some fishing – sadly they were not biting and he only managed one legal sized catch. We enjoyed fresh snapper for dinner the next night. Launching the boat was easy enough. By the time we got back the swell was somewhat larger and we had an interesting time getting the boat on the trailer. Lucky Dave had access to a tractor enabling him to get the trailer further into the water.
On our way back to the Airport when leaving we were surprised at how busy the traffic still was after 10am. Auckland sure seems to have a long peak-hour.
All in all a good trip to Auckland. Hopefully we will be back – and not only in another 8 years.