"I hope that, one day , the kiwi's feathers will find the means to fly us back to New Zealand's shores."
"Farewell New Zealand. Until we meet again."
Thus ended my last postcard blog back in March. Little did we think that we should be returning so soon but when Cathay Pacific had a flight sale we just couldn't resist the opportunity to make our second trip this year.
At the begining of a lengthy trip it's no bad thing to ease yourself in gently by starting off somewhere familiar. And so it was that, 36 hours after leaving our front door we fetched up at 23 Hepburn, our B&B in Auckland. And if we had to stay in New Zealand's largest city , why would we go anywhere else? It's situated just around the corner from all the shops and smart restaurants of Ponsonby Road; it's only a short bus ride into downtown Auckland; it has light, airy, beautifully decorated, spacious rooms; the breakfast of home made muesli, yogurt, fruit and jams with specially delivered fresh ground coffee is delicious; but, most of all, it is presided over by the wonderful and loving bundle of uniqueness that is Beth, who gave us a great big hug of welcome. We soon felt that we had come home after a few months spent in the UK!
We more or less 'did' Auckland the last time we were here in January so this time we decided to escape the city with its noise and traffic. Actually, Auckland is no more busy than Bristol, probably less so and although it holds a quarter of all of New Zealand's population it still has about an eighth of London's mass of humanity. Nonetheless, we hopped on to a ferry bound for Waiheke island, about half an hour away. This ferry ride is worth it for the views of Auckland alone as you both leave and re-enter the dockside.
Waiheke itself is full of delightful little settlements ( and, no doubt, weekend homes for the city's elite), sandy bays and an abundance of vineyards. Best of all, you can buy a rover ticket for the local bus which enables you to hop on and hop off at any number of stops, including vineyards conveniently placed along the route. So you can explore the island, go for a walk, stroll along the beach front and have a lunch at some superbly placed restaurants. It was a great way to unwind from our journey to this far side of the world and to prepare for the excursions ahead.
So, a day and a half after arriving it was time to wave goodbye to Beth and begin our exploration of Northland.