Well, we arrived in Auckland on Mon am 9th and in the evening took the bus into town and went up the Sky Tower where we were able to see the whole city, even though the weather was murky and wet it was still very impressive. We had a lovely meal up there too. The tower is the tallest building in the southern hemisphere at 328m. Went up a lift with a glass floor - scary - to one of the 3 resturants at 200m then after the seafood meal which was excellent, went up further to the highest observation platform at 220m. By then the clouds were really coming down and we felt just as if we were in the clouds...... or was it the wine having a strange effect.
By Tuesday we had a car, so drove into the city to visit the National Maritime museum. Very interesting, covery the time from the early Polynesian settlers just 1000years ago to current marine success in various yhathting event such as the Americas Cup!
Wednesday we left Auckland, and drove North up the west coast, stopping at the Kauri museum(trees)at Matakohe 2 hrs north of Auckland. This museum covered the life and times of the logging settlers 150years ago before logging the hugh Kauri tres was banned. Driving on for another 2 hours through Kauri forests we reached our first B&B, over looking the Hokianga Harbour a natural sea inlet thought to be the place where the Maori settlers land ed all those years ago. We went out again with 2 Maori guides into the kauri forest in the evening and saw some huge trees, some said to be 2000-3000 yrs old. The girth of the 2nd largest (measured by volume of wood in the trunk to the first branch) was 16meters round, the largest we saw ( with our high powered torches by then) wasn't so wide but twice as tall! Just amazing. Very interesting! By the way the Maori's pronounciation of Kauri is Kody. A really wothwhile evening trip, with the local Maori's as they were able to tell us a huge amount of history / culture about the local area. Well worth the effort and feeling rather tired by the time we returned to our B&B at 10.45.
On Thursday we drove across to the east to the Bay of Islands and our next B&B at Opua stopping for fish and chips at Manganui. Tarakihi fish locally caught and very tasty and fried to order. The weather up to now has been rather disappointing, cold and wet at times, but once on this east coast the sun came out and everywhere looked so much better and colourful.
Our B&B was high up above the Bay of Islands with just wonderful / magnificent views of the bay. The evening was spent chatting with our hosts, all about their life and NZ experiances.
Friday - 13th , unlucky for some, but not us. Woke up to sun streaming into our bedroom window, with the bay lit up from behind. A truly memorable sight, one we'll never forget. Enjoyed a great breakfast before setting of to Waitangi next to Paihia overlooking the Bay of Islands. This is where in 1830 the Waitangi Treaty was signed beween the British and the Maori chiefs throughout NZ, giving everyone equal rights, in land ownership and other aspects of governership of the country. This treaty is still the only legal document used and quoted thoughout NZ on matters relating to Maori rights.
In the afternoon took a ferry across the bay to Russell the oldest European settlement town in NZ. As you can imagine, steeped in history for NZ, even if only 170/175 years old. A thought...... even Crowthorne was not around at this time!
Tomorrow we're off to south of Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula....... more later, for our first Farmstay B&B. Should be good.