We have spent our last few days here in Auckland storing up memories of all the places we have come to know and love during our time here. It is with mixed feelings that we retrieve the little suitcases from the back of the
cupboard. On one hand it means that our adventure in the southern hemisphere is coming to a close but on the other it means our long awaited reunion with family and friends is that much nearer. It was a very cunning plan of Jon’s to spend a month in one place before leaving. He knew that we would need some continuity after so many weeks travelling but also he was oh so wise to realise that we would feel much more ready to leave than if we had only been here a week or so.
This update, therefore, is a bit of a repetition of the places we wanted to return to that have featured in previous posts. Having scanned through the most recent photos, I think there is going to be a bit of an overload of them this time. We have either honed our photography skills or I am getting very bad withdrawal symptoms already. At least you can scroll through quickly if it all looks too self indulgent.
Top of our list for another day out was to the island of Waiheke. A few weeks ago we had such a fabulous day there but only scratched the surface so we saved up some more vouchers and got 20% off the crossing with our favourite yellow and black livery ferry provider, Explore. The 40 minute crossing was as picturesque as before passing by Devonport, North Head, Rangitoto, Motutopu and arriving at Matiatia harbour on Waiheke.
This time we headed straight to the bus stop to get to Onetangi on the North side of the island. The bus driver was amazingly patient with all the passengers wanting to know where to alight for various wineries, shops and beaches. Onetangi is a beach over 1 km long and each summer they hold the beach races. This is basically a whole series of competitions and races. Horses, tractors, horse and trap (trots), sandcastles, tug of war and so the list goes on. Looks like great fun and we were only 3 weeks too late! The weather was perfect for our visit and it certainly showed off the long bay and beach in all it’s glory.
After some photography and a bit of a paddle and exploring the rocks for a while, we found a picnic bench with a view to die for and soaked up the views whilst eating our way through one of our last picnics. (I think I have upgraded the rolls, fruit and cereal bars to a picnic – editor’s note – look up the definition of picnic.)
After all this strenuous activity it was time to head for one of the two little bars on the beach. We opted for The Sand Shack for the views and had a “small” beer.
Before heading to the bus stop to head off to another part of the island, Jon just had to mess about on the beach a bit more. (Told you there were a lot of photos!)
A short bus ride back across the island to Oneroa. We had spent a few hours here on our first visit and just had to return. It is a much smaller bay than Onetangi with equally stunning views and, on our first visit, very few people.
However, when we arrived there must have been about 20 gazebos and 500 school children having a grand day out building sandcastles, running races, team games. They were only there for around an hour and were having so much fun. They were located in more or less one area so we still had the majority of the bay to swim and dig. For regular readers, you will be relieved to hear that we did have our swimmers/togs/bathers/costumes with us this time and there were no posters about micro-jelly fish. We swam, dug (Jon wanting to compete with the school kids) and lazed around for a few hours before reluctantly heading to the ferry for our return crossing to the city. It was at this point that we made an executive decision. If ever we are lucky enough to return to New Zealand we will schedule in a week or 10 days on the island and do the walking trails that hug the coast. Obviously we will need to call in at the wineries when thirsty and dip in the sea when hot. Perfect. But for now it was so-long Oneroa and Waiheke.
With the days ticking by we needed to get a few more miles on the trainers, so the next place we revisited was the volcanic crater of Maungawhau (Mount Eden) with the stunning views of the city, harbour and islands on the horizon. We went the long way round just to get some exercise after all our lazing around on beaches. It was great to get a 360 view of every place in the area we had explored during our time here. After a much quicker descent than ascent, we ended up in Mount Eden Village and selected Jones the Grocer for lunch. It was quite a snazzy deli bar. Jon was curious so had the Jones Burger. Good but not Epic and I opted for a tuna and potato salad which was epic.
This is a bit random but on the way I was “intreeged” by this tree.
Music in Cornwall Park
Despite the need to pack, we managed to fit in one last outing to our favourite park. It was hosting one of it’s final free music concerts of the summer (although strictly speaking it is autumn here now). We headed off to see The DeSotos who are famously (?) the Hunger for the Wild hitmakers. With a few NZ dollars left we treated ourselves to ice cream which always reminds me of my Grandma Anne. As a child and even an adult, if we were going on holiday or out for the day she would give us each £5 and say, “get yourselves an ice cream”. I think it was more a matter of get something for yourself because it is a hell of a costly ice cream at £5 per person in the 60’s and 70’s. As Ronnie Corbett would say, “I digress”. The DeSotos were a bit nothingy. Durge comes to mind – although their last track was a cover of The Night they drove Old Dixie down (and all the people were singing, nah, nah, nah, nannah, nah) which was about as good as it got. We managed a fair amount of people watching including one chap who must have made about 10 trips to his car with picnic items. First came the cool box and blanket which is pretty standard, then he wheeled through a large range style BBQ with enormous gas bottle. On the next trip he had a slide and ladder and on the last trip he surpassed himself with child’s plastic ride on car complete with a plastic track that fitted together with speed bumps and corners. What a dad! I must add that there were no other family members present at this stage or for the next hour or so before we left.
Travel Blog Award Nomination
As we have said many times, the blog is our diary of the good, bad, beautiful and downright ugly things we encounter on our travels. Jon also tweets a lot of bits and pieces to other travellers and sometimes our posts end up on local tourist information sites. To cut a long story short, we have been contacted by The Flight Centre which is very large travel agency here in Australia and New Zealand and they now also have offices in the UK. They let us know that we have been shortlisted for the Best Travel Blog Newcomers. Whoop whoop! If you like our posts and want to vote please use the link below. We genuinely don’t expect to win but would just like a respectable vote so we can hold our heads high in the world of blog. Thank you.
It is time to sign off from New Zealand now. The bags are packed the Skybus to the airport is booked and we are off to Singapore via Brisbane. I know the expression “words cannot describe….” is used very often but we both feel that truly words (or even this fabulous blog – VOTE NOW) cannot describe the experiences and good times we have had in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Even more than those experiences and good times, it is really the friends, old (sorry that is you Shelagh and Brian!) and new (that’s you all our Airbnb hosts and characters on our journey) that we have had the pleasure of spending time with along the way that will stay with us forever – don’t forget we know where you live and we could be the proverbial bad pennies. This has been a long goodbye to Aotearoa – the Land of the Long White Cloud.
Note from editor : A picnic is “an occasion when a packed meal is eaten outdoors, especially during an outing to the countryside”. It was, and always will be, a picnic!
3.3 – 6.3.2016