We flew out from Melbourne to Auckland, New Zealand, just after midnight on Thursday … so early hours of Friday 2nd February. Having had little sleep on the flight and not being able to check in to our airbnb till 2.00pm, we tried to make something of the day in between cat naps in the rental car. Drove to Mount Eden and climbed to the top – a spectacular view over the city and interesting to look down into the crater of this dormant volcano – the highest natural point in Auckland.
From there we made our way to Albert Park for a walk around the beautiful gardens – even spent an hour in Auckland Art Gallery …. so not too bad for a group of extremely weary travellers.
We were more than happy to get into our apartment though which was on the 18th floor of a modern city tower block – great views, great location near to the main waterfront, ferry points, shops, bars, restaurants etc. We all napped the rest of the afternoon, had a short interlude to eat, and then it was back to bed for an early night … and so we caught up on ourselves. Night flights are a nightmare … but extremely cheap!!
Saturday 3rd February
Feeling human again, we decided on a ferry trip out to Waiheke island … the weather was not too great, raining off and on … but we were prepared for all eventualities – sunhat, sun lotion, jumpers, raincoat etc… The island is home to 30 vineyards, some beautiful white sandy beaches and countryside walks. We took the hop on hop off bus option – our first stop being a winery – surprise surprise!! After a bite to eat and some local sampling we embarked on a countryside walk – up hill and down dale, passing a number of vineyards on the way (yes, I said passing)!!! – all the way to Onetangi beach.
Kaye managed to lose the sole of her walking boot along the way so some girl guide/boy scout maintenance was required!!
New Zealand, like Australia, seems to love a good sign …. often stating the obvious. This sign however was a bit of a mystery – we were passing an Olive grove – weren’t quite sure of the significance of being quiet. Maybe someone could enlighten us? This winery trail seems to be popular with stag and hen parties – maybe that’s who it was aimed at. We kept silent as mice all the same!!
After a couple of hours of walking we were glad to get back onto the bus …. and it was an interesting way to see the island. Our last stop was Cable Winery where we indulged in some further sampling!! Absolutely stunning views. From here it was a short walk down through a forest area to get to the ferry point – a walk full of view and VERY LOUD cicadas!!!
It was a bit of a choppy ferry trip on the way back to the mainland – the Captain announced the need to not walk around until he told us it was safe to do do. I was checking out those life-jackets I can tell you!!!
Back on dry land, we dolled up in preparation for our night out on the town. Ate at the Crab Shack – wow – absolutely recommend the steak! Views over the waterfront and fancy cruise liner.
And then we danced the night away in Danny O’Doolans. Another great drinking hole …. but predominantly young people. There was a live band playing covers … all very danceable – and we love to dance!! For some reason it appeared to be a novelty that us ‘old people’ were dancing – girls were literally latching on to Kaye and I and helping us to dance, like we were invalids!! But I got chatted up by two young men – well I say chatted up … I think I reminded them of their grandmothers!!
Late night for us ‘oldies’ but a good one!!
Sunday 4th February 2018
Steve and I planned to do the hop on hop off bus trip around Auckland today, so we could get a feel of this magnificent city before we headed off south into the country. Started off with a stop at the Sky Tower – bravely rode the lift to the 60th floor – spectacular views over the city once again.
Managed a huge burger for lunch (hangover fodder) and then hopped back onto the bus for a few more sightseeing opportunities. Got off at Bastion Point where we had more spectacular views …. and also took a walk down a steep hill to Mission Bay (one of Jess’ recommendations) – treated ourselves to a delicious Movenpick ice cream before embarking on the climb up that very steep hill again!
Also hopped off in Parnell which is a very swish residential area of Auckland – some stunning colonial style houses. Visited the rose gardens.
By the time we stopped off at the Museum we only had half an hour left before the last bus …. and as ‘Internationals’ we had to pay to go in …. so instead we opted for a free photographic exhibition – the New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year – the entries were mind blowing.
We caught the last bus to the final stop, disembarked and were walking along the waterfront when Steve realised he had left his sunglasses on the bus – hotfooted it back and managed to retrieve them, just as the driver was about to pull out. He had left his hat in the cafe at lunchtime and had retrieved it in the same manner. I think I’ll be sewing elastic onto his gloves when we get back and threading it through his jacket – like we had in our primary school gabardines!!
Our ticket also included a return ferry trip ticket to Devonport so the pier was our next stop. Once in Devonport we had a lovely walk all along the promenade and along the beach. Some stunning houses again. Got to see a cruise liner leaving Auckland too.
Before heading back into the city, we stopped for ‘fush and chups’ (a little play on the New Zealand accent) in a beachside cafe. Enjoyed a stunning sunset on our ferry ride home.
Tomorrow we head south … next stop Rotorua 😎