Backpacking Pensioners travel blog

The workers

Happy hour on the decking

Jumping from the Sky Tower (not us)

A view from our Auckland Hotel

The Oak's Residency; our hotel


This is going to be a sad week as we prepare to leave New Zealand. There are some tasks to perform and we will have some trips out.

Sunday dawned and Sylvia was not feeling well, but she is a trooper and the van must be cleaned to the standard she would like it to be if she were the new purchaser. Sylvia is not good company when working hard at cleaning, (especially when not feeling well), so I was glad to be helping Rosemary with some ‘ready mix concrete’ bags as she stabilised a flattened piece of ground in readiness for a ‘spa pool’ which is to be delivered on Tuesday.

Unluckily for Rosemary I have never done concreting but I was a willing labourer. It has been raining a lot recently and one part of the area was very muddy. More bags of mix will be needed.

After a night of strong wind and heavy rain the spa pool delivery was put off until next week; so no happy soak for me whilst looking out over beautiful Whangaroa Harbour whilst drinking cocktails brought to me by Sylvia. Today Rosemary took us to Kerikeri where we bought cough sweets and medicine for Sylvia before posting small parcels to the UK. Then we had a nice drive across country to Kaikohe where Rosemary had private business to attend to at the makers of the plaque for (her husband) Stan’s grave. We were sad to learn of his death whilst we were in Australia and never having the chance to know him.

Tuesday; another day of cleaning inside our motorhome for Sylvia and me sharing my skills between the van and mixing cement. Two jobs and both with demanding women for my boss; it’s enough to make me end my retirement.

Wednesday was better. Today we drove in our van and had Rosemary for company. Our first stop was at Mangonui where we again had lunch at the ‘World Famous Fish and Chip Shop’, eating at the tables over the water with views of the entrance to the bay. This time the fish was ‘Snapper’ which has a lovely taste and more to my pallet than the Hoki we had last time. Then we drove to Kaitaia to discharge our grey water from the tank. This is the personal washing and washing up water. I then emptied the water tank of about 70 litres of fresh water to clean the pipes. Another task which re-enforces the fact we will not be using our van to live in anymore.

Before leaving Kaitaia we purchased a cheap suitcase from The Warehouse; a large red shed belonging to a chain of shops “Where everyone gets a bargain”. Well we did, the case only cost £11.

Thursday; nine eleven; the eleventh of September and the date we left Scotland and the UK two years ago after cleaning our home throughout the night. Rosemary had bought ‘Flounder’ from the fish shop at Mangonui and cooked this as a treat for breakfast. Then, you’ve guessed it; we had more cleaning to finish off the motorhome, before packing our cases. My task was cleaning the inside front of the van and the outside cupboards. Why is it that the job of cleaning the toilet cassette and toilet cupboard always falls to the male motorhomer? This time we don’t have to pass inspection by ‘Quarantine’ as we did on entering New Zealand, but I would bet the van would have passed again.

Our evening meal was T Bone Steaks and prize winning wine bought when we visited the island of Waiheke. The condemned men’s supper.

Seven am was our Friday alarm call and by 8.50 am we had completed the packing of the cases and carried them and the polythene bags of all the stuff that wouldn’t fit in the cases, to the van. After a fond goodbye to Rosemary whom we hope to entertain when she visits Scotland, and a promise by her to say goodbye to her neighbour Glenys and all the other friends we have made at the Whangaroa Big Game Fishing Club, we set off on our last journey in the van that has been our home for nearly all of the last two years.

The first task was to visit the refuge depot on the way to Kerikeri where for the cost of just over £2 we could leave our rubbish and well used pillows, duvet, sheets and towels. I don’t know how we did it but we drove right past the turn off sign, despite having visited this dump site twice before. We did accomplish the second task which was to visit The Warehouse outside Kerikeri to buy another suitcase. How did we leave Scotland with only two cases?

After our 100 mile journey we arrived at Whangarei and met up with Ken who will get rid of our rubbish and sell our Motorhome for us. The formalities included making sure our van is insured for another year; (we will reclaim any unused monies when the van is sold), and payment at the post office of 3 months of ‘road registration’. New Zealanders do not pay road tax, they register the vehicle. Ken then drove us to the bus station where we are booked on the 2.30 pm bus to Auckland as ‘Golden Years’. I had told the booking agent on the phone that we were not from New Zealand and were under 65 years of age, but she said she would not tell anyone if I didn’t.

At Auckland we got a taxi to our hotel and unloaded our 4 suitcases. Our room was on the 13th floor and seemed quite high; I wonder what it would have been like on the 38th floor? The equipment in the en-suite room included a washing machine and dryer, cooker, grill, dishwasher and most other things we might want. Booked over the internet at a cost of £40 a night, (just over half price the normal charge), for a city centre hotel, it was good value.

Once installed, the wind blew the travel cobwebs off of us as we walked along the frontage by the water, and eventually we chose a nice Italian Restaurant for our evening meal, before buying breakfast juice, crumpets and butter for tomorrow’s breakfast.

Saturday: After a look around the shops and a visit to Flight Centre to check on our travel arrangements, and then lunch, we visited Sky Tower to book theatre tickets for tonight. Then back to our hotel for a lazy few hours before setting forth for an evening meal in the ground floor Sky ‘Café/Bar’, which was like a restaurant and charged prices accordingly, before going to the theatre.

The play, ‘The Dentist’s Chair’ has been doing the rounds of New Zealand for a lot of months, and has been playing to capacity audiences; tonight was no exception. It is a black comedy and the Dentist is haunted by the first man to test out successfully the electric chair. It was well acted and had many funny lines, and of course a twist in the tail, (tale). Unfortunately it did not end until just after 10pm and by the time we got back to our hotel room, we had missed almost a half hour of the big rugby union crunch match between the All Blacks and the Wallabies.

Sunday: After our snack breakfast we left our luggage at reception and went out for a 10 am big breakfast before taking a walk, and then meeting our taxi man at 12.20pm to go to the airport. The bus from the centre costs $15 dollars each. The shuttle bus collects you from your hotel and costs $22 each. A taxi to the airport is a flat rate of $35, (£1350). Our taxi man left the meter running and would have charged me $52. When I mentioned the flat rate he begrudgingly said $40, which was what I was going to give him after he had lugged around our 4 heavy suitcases.

At the airport we had a beer and phoned our special friends at Invercargill with whom we spent Christmas, before settling down to wait for our flight time.

When we were at the East Cape of New Zealand we posted a picture on our blog site of a view ‘looking at yesterday’. Today we will be crossing the date line and putting watches forward 2 hours and our calendar back by one day.

Our next blog will start tomorrow and be about yesterday; or is that today all over again?


To Rosemary, a special lady. Thank you for looking after us so well.

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