First stop Auckland

We left Riverside on 1 December after welcoming back our housesitters extraordinaire! Since then we have caught the Spirit to Melbourne, driven to Mittagong for two nights and Jim’s extended visit to All Aboard, one of the best model train establishments on the mainland. I browsed the many antique and homewares stores in town and we ate at the wonderful RSL club both nights. Then it was off to Sydney airport for a night at Rydges before catching our flight to Auckland.

The absolute highlight of our three days in Auckland was a day trip to the Coromandel Peninsula. What a wonderful trip! The myriad lush green islands we cruised past on the way are spectacular, some lightly populated with beautiful homes and all very remote. After taking on more passengers at both Waiheke and Ponui Islands we docked at Coromandel and lunched at the Coromandel Café before our tour bus dropped us at the Driving Creek Railway.
There we took an hour’s train ride up into the mountains through a thick green rainforest to the peak at the ‘Eyeful Tower’ which offers superb views. Resident Barry Brickell built the railway over a period of 32 years, on 22 hectares of his own land. On his passing the land will revert to a conservation trust to ensure no more native trees are destroyed, as they were in the 1800s.
Barry, who is quite elderly, spoke to us at length about his beloved railway, with pride. He is foremost a potter and there are examples of his work, and that of visiting potters from around the world, along the railway line and in his on-site pottery. Barry and his helpers maintain the railway and build and maintain all the carriages themselves.

Our next stop was a Kauri forest. Kauris were felled by the thousands in the 1800s, creating problems for the people and the land in those times. A Kauri forest regeneration project is now underway and our guide Sunny, who is a passionate advocate for this project, had us imagining what the forest once looked like when a legendary giant, 4,000 years old and 8 metres in diameter, was the star attraction. We walked through the forest and saw fairly young trees that are 2 metres in diameter as well as saplings only a few months old.

Then it was back to the ferry and Auckland where over a couple of days we walked the city including a considerable climb up to The Domain and back via the picturesque Albert Park. Auckland certainly isn’t short on coffee shops or restaurants, and on Monday we dined at the classy Crew Club overlooking the harbour, and enjoyed a lovely bottle of local Pinot Gris.

Day 1 of our cruise saw us return to the beautiful Bay of Islands. We were there in April so we spent a couple of hours in Paihia visiting the markets and having coffee, then returned to the ship. That night we met our dining companions: two couples, one from Sydney and the other from San Diego and we look forward to getting to know them. The evening’s show was a violinist from New Zealand who played Bach and Queen and everything in between. Her name is Yoomia and she is fantastic.
Today, Day 2, we docked at Tauranga and the delightful town of Mount Maunganui which is on a peninsula overlooked by Mount Maunganui. We walked kilometres through the streets and along the foreshores, ending up in the shopping district for coffee at Gusto, one of many cafes here. The shops are beautiful – clothes, shoes, gifts, homewares, etc. – but the one that caught our eye was Just 4 Fun, where Penny bought a 1000 piece jigsaw of the hugely talented Thomas Kincaid’s Follow the Yellow Brick Road (from The Wizard of Oz of course). This afternoon we will be entertained by a Maori Folkloric show and tonight by Perth singer and entertainer Clara Helms. Bring it on!




  1. Wow!!!!! Sounding wonderful…. the photos are great too…. enjoy yourselves and "see you " on the 19th!!!!!!!

    1. Glad you could actually see the photos as I wasn't sure how they would come out!


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