Last day in Auckland

Okay, I’ve been home for over three months now so it’s about time I wrote my final New Zealand post!

On our last full day in New Zealand, we decided to actually stay in Auckland. It also turned out to be the only day of our entire stay that we had rain! Oh well 🙂

We started the day with a harbour cruise. There are two per day, and we chose the morning one. With your ticket you also get a free return ticket to Devonport and the price also includes a free cup of tea/coffee and a muffin on the boat. The cruise takes about 90 minutes and includes a stop at Rangitoto islandl. You only get about 10 minutes there, which is just about enough time to walk up and see some of the historic baches (pronounces batches, what New Zealanders call their holiday homes), but we saw a Fantail there, which was pretty fun since the room we were staying in at the B&B was called Pikawaka, which is Maori for Fantail. The commentary on the cruise was interesting at the time, although I remember nothing of it now! Oh well, you only come here for the pretty pictures, right?

After the cruise we met my aunt for a drink – she managed to pop out between meetings to see us – then we decided to use our free ferry tickets to go back to Devonport and buy some chocolate for me to take to my colleagues. Then we took another ferry back to Birkenhead where we had parked the car. As we went under the Harbour Bridge we actually saw some people bungee jumping!

My cousin had recommended Mount Eden as a nice place to get a view over Auckland and its surroundings. Mount Eden or Maungawhau is a dormant volcano and the highest natural point in Auckland. There’s also a crater, approximately 50 metres deep, which is where the volcano erupted from.

It was chucking it down by the time we got up there so visibility wasn’t the greatest, but luckily we had already seen the view from the Sky Tower the day before. It’s difficult to get a sense of the depth of the crater from photos, so you’ll just have to trust me that it was deep 😉 Also notice that someone had been down to the bottom and arranged stones to say HI!

By this time my feet were soaked, so we headed back to the B&B for some dry clothes. We had planned to meet my cousin for dinner again, but she had a headache so we ended up just going to a place near where we were staying, The Good Home in Birkenhead. I chose fish and it had its head still on! I was brave though and ate it all.

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The next morning we drove around looking for a place to post some postcards (the stamps we had were for a specific type of post box, not the normal NZ post) then ended up at some bay that I don’t know the name of but it was pretty and we saw sea birds there! On some grass near the bay we then saw a Pūkeko (a kind of swamphen). I had been trying all week to get a photo of one but they kept running away so we parked the car and stalked this one until I kind of managed to get a photo 😉

The afternoon was spent with my cousin, watching her boyfriend’s football team play in their first match of the season. Then it was off back to the airport  where we had dinner and waited around for a while before catching the looong flight back.

On the way home, we had a ten hour layover in Dubai so I shall leave you with the one and only photo I managed to take there before my camera battery died. At least it was a half decent  one 😉 (We went up the tower but Jan has all the photos from there)

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And that’s it! I can’t believe my New Zealand tales are actually over! To sum up this epic series of posts I have only four words to say: Go to New Zealand!! (I promise you won’t regret it)

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Auckland beaches

Okay, enough politics for now. Let’s get back to New Zealand (which, by the way, is increasingly feeling like an appealing place to move to, away from all the violence and insanity on this side of the world. If only it wasn’t so hot there…).

To finish off our New Zealand trip, we had two and a half days in Auckland. On the first of those days, we headed North to visit some of the beaches in the Auckland region. Our first stop was at Piha beach, which my cousin had recommended. A sign warned us not to get to close to any penguins… but again we were lied to, not a penguin in sight! Oh well, the beach was beautiful.

We walked all the way down to the end of the beach – and yes, it is as far as it looks in the second photo above! It was worth it though… while climbing around on some rocks at the end of the beach, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye then spotted some crabs hiding in the gaps between rocks. Not quite a penguin, but wildlife is wildlife. I’ll take it 😉

Crab in the rock

Next, we drove to Maukatia (Maori Bay) and walked a little way along the Takapu Refuge Walk to see the gannet colony. For those that have never seen gannets… they are loud! Pretty cool to see so many of them in one place though. Looking down the other way, towards Muriai Beach, I saw a black bird with a bright orange beak walking around on a large rock. Any guesses what he is? I have no idea! (Look at the last two photos in the gallery below).

We could have followed the refuge walk round for half an hour until we reached Muriwai Beach, but it looked busy down there and it was lunch time, so instead we headed back to the car and stopped off to buy drinks, snacks and sandwiches at a little convenience store before driving around to the East coast. Our final stop before heading back to the city was at Orewa Beach, where we watched the kite surfers for a while.

On the drive back, we realised it was still pretty early, so we parked the car in Devonport, took a ferry into the city and went up the Sky Tower. In case anyone doesn’t know, at the time of writing this the Sky Tower is the tallest building on the souther hemisphere, at 328 metres (1,076 ft) tall. You can jump from the tower if you feel that way inclined (attached to a rope, obviously!) but we just went up to the top. Sky jumps would have to be booked in advance anyway 😉

Back down on the ground, we returned to Devonport on the ferry and met my cousin for dinner… which I again failed to photograph. I had bangers and mash, in case you care. By the time we returned to the car – which we had parked by the Devonport ferry terminal – it was dark, so we finished the day with a photo of the Auckland skyline.

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And that’s it for today. Only one more post on New Zealand to go!

*New Zealand was my March 2016 trip for #Take12Trips 2016*

Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand

I’m back! And that means it’s time to bore you all with tales from my New Zealand trip. Sorry, not sorry 😉

We landed at Auckland airport at around 11 a.m. on 20th March, but by the time we’d got through passport control, collected our bags, done the security thing and my cousin, who had come to pick us up (so many thanks for that!), had driven us into town, it was afternoon. We quickly showered at the hotel then walked down Queen’s Street (the main shopping street) to jump on a ferry to Devonport, where my cousin lives.

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On the ferry to Devonport

Originally a fishing village, Devonport is now a suburb of Auckland city. It’s located on the North Shore, so to get there you either have to drive over the harbour bridge (incredibly annoying at rush hour!) or take a ferry. I certainly wouldn’t mind using the ferry for my daily commute!

While we waited for my cousin (who had gone to her boyfriend’s while we freshened up), we had a walk around the wharf area and watched the seagulls and other birds that were gathered around.

Once my cousin arrived, she took us for a drive around Devonport, up the various hills (which are actually volcanoes) and then for dinner at her local pub, The Patriot. I can’t remember which photos were taken from where, so here are just all of them. Views from North Head and Mount Victoria:

At dinner, we had our first taste of Kumara, the New Zealand sweet potato that the Maoris brought with them from Polynesia, and also tried our first New Zealand beers. At around 9 p.m. we decided it was probably time to get moving since my cousin had to work the next day and we had another flight to catch – to the South Island, where we would be spending the next five days. After a ferry ride back to Auckland City and a walk up Queens Street that felt much longer than the walk into town we were finally in bed, where I at least fell straight to sleep.

^ terrible attempts to get a night shot as we were coming in to Auckland city harbour!

Next up is South Island. Stay tuned!

* New Zealand is my April trip for 2016’s take 12 trips retake! *