Leaving Buenos Aires ….
Having organised a late check out from the apartment, we spent a relaxing day finishing off our packing, drinking coffee and reading. The time went quickly and soon we were on our way to the airport, about an hour out of town. Our other flights had arrived at the airport close to the city, so it was 11 years since we’d been at the main international airport.
We were glad to be paying a fixed rate for the taxi ride as we seemed to be going in and out of little windy streets before eventually hopping on to the freeway. Apart from that, our trip was pretty uneventful. After a two hour flight to Santiago, a few hours layover and the flight to Auckland, we arrived at our destination an hour early. Auckland airport is very quiet at 4am so we were through in no time, collecting our hire car before 5am and heading north.
Catching up with family….
Our first port of call was Glenda’s cousin, Dale and her husband, Bob. We were looking forward to spending time with them after not having seen them for a number of years. It was a little early to knock on their door at 6am, so we kept ourselves busy and went to a nearby park to watch the sun rise over Auckland city before ringing the doorbell. In spite of the early hour, we received a very warm welcome and a cup of coffee.
After Bob & Dale went to work, we went off to the nearby shopping centre. Walter needed a new pair of hiking boots if we were to do the tramping (hiking) we had planned in New Zealand. (refer to Ode to the hiking boots on blog). Fortunately, after visiting a couple of stores, he found something he liked and he was ready to climb the mountains of NZ. We also had enough time to have a brief afternoon snooze as we knew we were heading out in the evening.
After a shower, we both felt much better and were ready for Bob & Dale to pick us up and take us off to their evening function in the city. We spent a fabulous evening with them and about ten young business people that were being trained to be mentors in the workplace. A real privilege to learn from this inspiring group of people and provide some input into their lives too.
We were blessed to spend the following day with Dale as she’d taken the time off work. We went to one of Auckland’s famous black beaches, Muriwai. Popular with surfers, it is also home to a gannet colony. We had seen this during one of our first visits to NZ more than 20 years ago, and were amazed at how many more birds were there and how much they’d destroyed some of the vegetation. We were also staggered by the spectacular weather we had for our visit – warm and wind still.
Our final morning, the four of us went out to coffee at Hobsonville. The old airbase has been converted into a huge housing development with a boardwalk and cafes. After our brief two night stay, we were sad to say goodbye but glad to have reconnected as we’ll definitely keep in touch!
Spending time with friends….
Even though we’d spent a couple of weeks with them last year, we couldn’t wait to see Ronelle & Dave, friends from Maritzburg University in South Africa who moved to Auckland the same time we shifted to Sydney. Knowing that their daughter, Steph had just started university in Christchurch, we were also keen to ensure that all was well following the shooting that had taken place there the day before.
It was nice to be near the beach again, staying at Red Beach, north of the city. A highlight of the few days we spent with them was a trip on their boat to Kawau Island. In addition to a leisurely brunch at the small café on the island, we enjoyed visiting a couple of other islands and revisiting an old shipwreck that Dave had taken us to last year.
Off to New Plymouth……for more time with family & friends
When visiting North Island in the past, we have tended to spend time in Auckland or driving down the middle of the country through Rotorua and Taupo to Wellington. This meant we had never been along any of the west coast and had never been to visit Walter’s uncle, Godfrey, living in New Plymouth. Small world as it is, Glenda and her brothers were at primary school with Godfrey’s sons and daughters! We hadn’t seen him since our wedding some 28 years ago!
Having discovered during last year’s stay that Auckland’s traffic is at least as bad as Sydney’s crazy roads, we hung out until after peak hour to get on the road. It was raining as we left the city but as we made our way further south and on to country roads, the weather started improving as did the scenery. We stopped off for coffee at a little café recommended by Godfrey and sat in a little rotunda nearby eating the quiches we’d bought at the Red Beach bakery before leaving.
As we neared New Plymouth, we followed the beautiful coastal road in places and in others, we wound along the mountain passes. We had our first sighting of nearby Mt Taranaki, although it was largely enveloped in mist. When we arrived at Godfrey’s house on the outskirts of town, he sent us out on a walk amongst the local horses, pigs and sheep whilst he prepared us a very tasty dinner. By this time, the mist had cleared from the mountain and we were able to view it in all its splendour.
Between reminiscing about the past and talking about the myriad of walks that we could do in the area, there was so much to . Time soon disappeared and we were all ready to call it a night.
After lots more chit-chat over breakfast the next morning, it was time to be on our way. Ironically, friends from further south that we’d hoped to meet up with during our stay were camped at a park in New Plymouth, so we’d organised to have lunch with them. We were a little early, so decided to take a sidetrip to see Paritutu Rock, a large mount poking out near the port and a few minutes away from the camp ground. We hadn’t actually planned to climb it, but as it stated that it was only a 30 minute trip, we figured we may as well. It was a little tougher than anticipated with lots of boulder hopping, but with the help of the chain to pull us up, we made it to the top and were rewarded with beautiful views across land and sea.
After our climb, we were ready to relax, so headed to meet Murray and Sandy. We were confused when we didn’t see their RV at the site they’d directed us to, but soon found out they’d relocated to a beautiful lot overlooking the sea and we’d missed their message.
The café they chose had exquisite views over the water and the food was varied and very tasty. It was so good to catch up, talking about our Antarctic Cruise (that’s where we met), the walks around Mt Taranaki (they are from nearby Whanganui so know the area) and South Africa (they’d like to go there sometime). All too soon our time together came to an end and it was time to say goodbye. Until we meet again!