Auckland is alright actually!

Trip Start Jan 19, 2006
Trip End Jan 19, 2007

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Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Another night of driving rain but up to a beautiful morning for breakfast by the sea.

Drove out of Warkworth and south again towards Auckland where we drove over the Harbour Bridge and had fantastic views of the skyline as we went in. First stop was Mount Eden which was recommended to us as a great viewing spot for Auckland. Drove up most of the way and walked to the top of this extinct volcano with a gigantic crater in it - was amazing and quite weird to think of a volcano again so close to a main city. Well worth doing if anyone is there or planning to go - and free of course!

As it was another lovely day decided to go to Titirangi in the sunshine as rain predicted for later and tomorrow (wrong so far though - glad its not only our weather forecasters that screw up). Is a town south west of city by the coast and where my mum used to live for a couple of years when she was a kid (part of the programme to get people to move out here in the '50s - the 1950s not the 1850s! - sorry mum!!) Titirangi is actually quite a large residential area with a smallish but bustling high street (had a hokey pokey icecream here - mum used to like them as a kid so had to). Found a kind estate agent who gave us a map and showed us where Arama Road was (where mum lived) and we drove down there. Is incredibly green and spread out still and found her old house. Had to walk up a driveway to get a photo (couldn't find the residents to ask if it was ok) but think it has been rebuilt since my mum lived there. Beach is literally at the end of the road and there is a lovely bay you can drive around to next road along. Would be a great place to grow up even though mum had to walk to school for 2 miles without shoes (and only had coal to eat!!). After our trip down memory lane and annoying Dave with trying to take photos of various things my mum might remember we went back into Auckland. Found a great place overlooking the harbour and skyline of Auckland to sit out in the sun and have lunch in the blazing sunshine - thought it was sposed to be Winter here now!

Then drove to our final campground for our stay (we think unless we get thrown off our planned place to stay tonight!) at Top 10 on North Shore where we had a swim and shower. Then got a taxi to Ponsonby to meet (kiwi) Mike, a friend from Newcastle who moved back here over a year ago. Had a few beers and a catch up which was nice before heading home.

Up this morning and am starting to get a bit sad about leaving here (although have had plenty, if not too much, time here) but are in our comfort zone and am a bit nervous about going to an unknown culture etc but also quite excited. Today weather is still glorious and have driven into Auckland to do last batch of t'internet (and hopefully last time to do our Oz application forms - we hope!) and have a wander. Are going to see the son of Viv and Jane (does that make him 4th cousin or what?) this afternoon and then hopefully to Euro, a restaurant on the wharf here where we went the first night of our honeymoon nearly 5 years ago (aaah!).

Like Auckland this time (think it helps having transport as is pretty spread out) - last time we were here (for all of 24 hours) thought it was a bit souless (a common complaint apparently but Auckland and its inhabitants seem to get a pretty hard time from all the other kiwis!).

In summary, have really enjoyed NZ is such a diverse country but think we prefer south to the north island in terms of geography and things to see and do but north if we were to live here. Is a very civilised place and very similar to the UK in a bygone era I think. They seem a lot more respectful of the maori heritage which is better than Oz. Having said that we still would prefer to live in Oz though - partly because of the weather but is just a bit more bustling and more to do (sorry NZ!).

Leave here tomorrow to fly to Santiago (11 and a half hours) and then wait a couple of hours before we fly half way back over the Pacific to Easter Island (5 hour + flight). Can't wait for how we will feel after that!! Am looking forward to it though and then back to Santiago for a day before we head up to Quito in Ecuador and then start our overland trip with Dragoman (are then doing big circle around S America so will do Chile and west coast properly on way round then). Not sure how often will be updating this from now on but will do when we can. (are also concerned about which World Cup matches we will be able to see!) No excuses for not keeping in touch with us though!
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