Wednesday, 2 January 2013

New Zealand - Post 9

Sunday 30 Dec
A very wet day. We got up late then went to downtown Pahia and walked around the main area of town.  Had lunch and coffee in town, then strolled around the Sunday Craft Markets, and spoke to a couple of people who were off the cruise ship (America Hollandia) anchored in the harbour. Made a new friend, Ross, at the place we are staying. I was feeling a little off-colour after lunch so had an afternoon nap.
Monday 31 Dec

A beautiful day! We drove over to Russell via a gravel road, and did the Kauri Grove walk, which was only short but still quite enjoyable, as the Kauri trees are majestic. 

We thoroughly enjoyed Russell in 2005, so wandered around this very historic village again, going up to Flagstaff Hill, out to the heads, and across to Long Beach on the east side for lunch.

This was away from the hub-bub of the village, and very quiet and peaceful. People were surfing and fishing. We drove south to Whangerei, and checked in to our motel (Kensington)..although we were a bit hesitant about our choice when we discovered the tavern just at the back! Whangerei Quarry Gardens were supposed to be very good, so we walked there, and were impressed with the amount of work that volunteers have put in to making these gardens very pleasant. There are two waterfalls, a lake, and lots of interesting feature areas.

Luckily the Tavern did not seem to be hosting a New Year's event so all was quiet on the Western Front! There was a fair bit of emergency vehicle activity up and down the street early, and someone let off their fireworks early, but eventually we heard the main fireworks and wished each other a 'Happy New Year'.
Tuesday 1 Jan
I had a great sleep, and Kensington was the best place we had for a one-night stay. We drove south to Waipu Cave.

Our information was scant, but the map got us to the correct place.  This would be a great place to camp, with a large grassy area and a toilet and shower. We were lucky we arrived early, as lots of people seemed to also think this was a great place to visit on this lovely holiday. This cave really was impressive. The entrance was large, and very muddy and slippery, but we took off our shoes and paddled in to the main cavern, where there was a beautiful glow-worm display, along with many stalactites and stalagmites.

After a picnic lunch on the karst rocks outside, we went on the Waipu Cave Walkway. Initially this was quite interesting, through thick forest, but ended up in open landscape. We went as far as the lookout and turned back.

East of this forest was Uretiti Beach at Bream Cove, and once again the numbers of people was amazing, but the views of the islands offshore was definitely worth the drive.

We drove through Waipu, which was in the middle of a Scottish festival, and headed south to Piroa Falls  and Waipu Gorge. The falls were quite nice, and there were lots of swimming holes, but once again the numbers of people was off-putting, so we had a quick look before continuing our journey to Auckland. City Travellers Auckland is our apartment home for the next 3 nights. It is very central and cheap, but doesn't have parking, so we will have to be out and about before 8am.
Wednesday 2 Jan
We hadn't realised that today was also a public holiday in NZ. As we thought it was a normal work-day we left our parking just before 8am, and went to Mt Eden (an extinct volcano) which we walked up and enjoyed the view from the top.

Our next stop was MOTAT (Museum of Transport and Technology), and we took a Melbourne tram across from the main buildings to the Aircraft displays.

It took nearly 2 hours to look at these, so it was time for a picnic lunch in the Western Springs park before going into the main museum precinct.

We were interested to see lots of eels in the stream going through the park. Inside we enjoyed the many vehicles, Western Springs steam pump-house, model trains (where the scenery was a copy of a particular valley and engineering problem with  tunnels and rises, trams, buses, motorbikes, bicycles, historic buildings, fire engines, Sir Edmund Hillary and his Antartic expedition, printing, telephony Iconic symbols of NZ and the Science principles section, where Darryl tried his hand at lots, such as the chair-lift, mechanical arm, and finally stilts.

At the end we entered what looked like a spaceship and were treated to an excellent sensory simulation of a futuristic roller-coaster (we both thought it will be absolutely awesome in 3-D).

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