For the first time this trip we woke up to showers. I wanted my money back from the NZ Government. We took our time getting ready as we knew it was going to clear up as the morning went on.
We hopped in the car off to explore the Auckland suburbs. Our first destination was to be Eden Park. This is the NZ National Stadium and its where the All Blacks are undefeated since 1994. It is also the venue for International cricket and later tonight NZ were playing a T20 match against India. Although it was a night match I expected the ground to be have lots of people already about. It was deserted. I was able to park right outside and peer in at the stands and the pitch which was being cut. By now the clouds were clearing and the sun was breaking through.
Then we headed to Mount Eden and after a fashion found the correct place to park for the trail up to the top. It was a very steep trail to the top but had magnificent 360 degree view all over Auckland. It almost seemed that the City was an island as there seemed to be water all around. The volcanic crater was still very evident from the last eruption 20000 years ago. There was another mile marker on the top which reminded us how remote we were from any other country. We stayed a while and then made our way part way down to a very posh cafe. I had a tea whilst Karen went for her usual flat white paired with another Boysenberry Real Fruit Ice cream. It was a real sun trap despite the fact we were high looking down on the City.
Back in the car we ate our picnic lunch we had brought before driving to One Tree Hill. This is another of the many extinct volcanos that are spread across Auckland. We drove around it trying to find the trail to the top. We ended up in Cornwall Park which was a lovely city park but although part of One Tree Hill was actually separate to it. That is due to an agreement to give each of the tops of the Volcanos back to the original native families. It was all quite confusing. Cornwall Park had the visitors centre that we looked around and a rather posh bistro attached. We went to the side of that to a stall to get a couple of drinks before moving the car to the start of the trail to the top.
This trail was even steeper than Mount Eden. It was hard work in the now hot sunshine. Disappointingly the peak does not have just one tree growing on it. It used to have but was cut down in protest some years back. They are now trying to cultivate another tree but it is still more like a bush. At the top is an obelisk and again there are great views from the top. The trail we took going down was even steeper and not an easy walk.
Then we headed back to the Hotel and emptied the car ready for our departure in the morning. We intended to go out for another walk but in the end just chilled in our room for a couple of hours. The pace over the last 3 weeks has been almost relentless and it was good to just be able to catch up on things, yet we both still felt that as our time in NZ was short that we should have been out doing things. Sometimes though life catches you up and you do have to slow down for a bit.
For dinner tonight I fancied another Chicken Caesar Salad from The Coffee Shop. We headed to the nearest one near to the Sky Tower. It was as delicious as the previous one I had had in Taupo. Karen had a Crispy Chicken and Bacon Bun with chips that she enjoyed. It was still early so we went for a walk along the main shopping street. Despite it being a Friday, the start of a 3 day weekend for Auckland Day on Monday and a beautiful evening, most of the shops were closed. The NZ culture seems to involve early closing for everyone. Whilst it gives all the workers a better lifestyle, it does mean that everyone eats and drinks early and most city centres are deserted after 7.30pm.
We bought a bottle of bubbles from Countdown and took that back to our room to drink whilst packing up for our next flight. It was to be another early start tomorrow meaning another early night.
Despite all my reservations about travelling here, I have thoroughly enjoyed NZ again albeit perhaps in a different way to last time. The first time we were in awe of everything, this time we have taken most of it in our stride. Yet I do think it is now time to leave. We have been away almost 3 weeks, and here for most of it. I am ready for a change. Going to Perth is good as it is somewhere we haven’t been and I am looking forward to it. Karen has absolutely loved NZ. Initially she was saying this is the last time we will come all this way, then saying to we should come back in a couple of years to tonight suggesting that a trip next year would perhaps work. For me that is too soon as there are other plans we have, but we have now the outline itinerary for our next trip here whenever that maybe.