Sky Tower & Rainforest Express Train

Trip Start Aug 20, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Saturday, April 3, 2010

Our last full day before Grandma and Papa returned back to the UK, via Thailand.

We had experienced the Observatory buffet restaurant at the top of the Sky Tower at the start of their visit and we experienced the Orbit revolving restaurant at the end of their trip.

We are so glad that we did.  The revolving bit of the whole experience was good fun, particularly for the children, as you would imagine.  It crept round, so the view was constantly changing, doing a complete circuit in one hour.  Once again, we were particularly lucky with the weather, it was fantastic and the views were crispy clear.  The food and service was pretty fantastic too.  I was a little sceptical prior to arrival, I thought that we were paying far too much just because the restaurant was at the top of the tower, however, it was the best meal that I have had in quite a while!  We all enjoyed mouthwatering starters, mains, desserts and coffee as well as wine and cider, and were served by a very confident waitress who knew how to wait on tables.  It was fab.

Later in the day, it was a complete change of clothes, ready for the outdoors.  We drove along Scenic Drive to catch the Rainforest Express train for the second to last twilight tour of the season.  After a brief safety talk and history about how the railway came about we boarded the narrow gauge train and headed off towards the Nihotupu Dam.  The journey took us deep into the the bush of the Waitakere Ranges, with the track running alongside the huge waterpipe that waters the city of Auckland.  It was quite a humbling experience, listening about the conditions that the workers endured during the building of the dam and laying of the pipe so long ago at the beginning of the 20th century.  It is hard to believe that, that same pipe is used today.  Along the way, we passed through many tunnels (10 I think), some small and some particularly long, but all were a tight squeeze, no room for you to travel with your hands/arms out of the carriage.

Eventually we arrived at the picnic site, a site which was used all those years ago by a courageous woman who fed the workers night and day.  We then headed to the base of the dam to experience it's sheer size from the bottom.  We then precariously climbed the incredibly steep steps up the front of the dam to the walk way above.  The first few flights were like climbing a ladder, however, the further up you went they did become kinder!

Once at the top we wandered as dusk set.  Realising that indeed the news that we have seen on the TV nightly is correct - drought - the driest summer in a long time!  The water levels were very low.  Thankfully, Auckland doesn't just rely on this reservoir!

After a good stretch of the legs, we set up our picnic in the dark and enjoyed our supper by the lights from the train.  It was amazing sitting in the middle of the Waitakeres, supping wine and pims, looking up at the sparkling stars and listening to the sounds of the rainforest.  Considering Autumn is now upon us, it wasn't particularly cold, a slight chill yes, but nothing a fleece didn't sort out.  It was an experience that we will remember for a very long time.  Magical!

The journey back was particularly magical too, due to the glow worms lighting up the tunnels like diamond stars in the sky.  I have seen glow worms before, however, the spectacle they put on for us this evening was exceptional.  They were so bright and there were so many.  In some of the caves you could see the glow, even before you entered it.  Absolutely amazing.  Lucy and Daniel thought it was pretty amazing too.  Something they had not witnessed before.

Unfortunately, before too long the train journey was over and we were back where the adventure had begun. We had a brilliant time and will return sometime in the future. 
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