We were sad to be packing up and moving on this morning. Tauranga and Mount Maunganui was our type of place and we both agreed if we would be happy to live here. New Zealand has creeped into our bodies again and I am totally suspecting though this may not be our last visit after all with all the hints I am getting from Karen.
After breakfast I started to load up the car and after a final photo in the garden, we set off for our drive above Auckland up to our overnight start at Matakana.
We had only been driving for 15 minutes though when we pulled off the road to visit McLaren Falls Park. Strangely it seemed that the falls themselves were just before the entrance of the park itself. We drove up into the park regardless just to check. Despite having only leaving the apartment 15 minutes earlier Karen got herself a coffee from the park café. It seemed a really nice place.
We then drove back outside the park and parked at the falls. Even though there wasn’t much water they were still very impressive and we could only imagine what they must look like when in full flow. It was beautiful and we had the bridge overlooking the falls to ourselves admiring the view.
Then we thought we should get moving on the last big drive of the trip. After driving over a mountain range the road eventually levelled out and gradually got better eventually turning into an expressway. This made the driving so much easier and allowed me to take in some more of the very strange Kiwi radio. The best advert of the day was for a windscreen company who’s hook line was ‘Show us your crack’. I’m not sure that would get pass the UK advertising standards. The music was quick eclectic as well. They seemed to celebrating Neil Diamond (on his 83rd birthday) with a very odd choice of his hits and for a reason I couldn’t fathom multiple tracks from a 1980’s Talking Heads album.
About 15 miles outside Auckland, we hit traffic on what was now a 3-lane highway. We crawled along until we were in the City Centre where the queues suddenly dissipated.
Karen wanted another stop but whilst in a queue that proved impossible and so we ploughed on. We also went through our first toll point and we made a mental note to pay for it later online.
Just outside Matakana I eventually tried to pull into the Matakana Estates winery for a stop. It was closed on a Wednesday. We drove on for another mile instead and came to Heron’s Flight Winery which thankfully was open. It was a much smaller operation but Karen approved. A very helpful girl from Italy organised a wine flight for her. These were all Red based wines and I was quite envious. Karen preferred the Rose but agreed the heavier reds had a real depth of flavour. The wines to buy were very expensive and so we left without buying any.
Whilst Karen was doing her best to appear as a real wine connoisseur, I realised the winery almost backed onto the property that Noel Edmonds was still trying to sell for £3.5million. It was very sad that I knew that he had lived here in Matakana since emigrating several years ago. However, a couple of years back he had put this house on the market as he had bought an estate including a village near Nelson on the South Island. I just thought we should have a look and perhaps pretend we were interested as purchasers. We went up the private drive for that and a couple of other properties but turned around once we could see it in the distance. It didn’t look anything like Crinkly Bottom nor was it pink with yellow spots.
We then drove another mile or so and checked into the Matakana Motel. We had stayed here on our last trip and loved it. Amazingly we were given the same room and it was as good as we remembered. It just oozed quality.
After having a cuppa sitting out on our veranda we went for a walk around the small town. It is very up market and is the ‘Burnham Market’ of the North Island where the affluent of Auckland have second homes. It is very nice to walk around and the many boutique shops reeked of money. We just looked in the windows. The other thing Matakana is famous for (apart from Noel Edmonds) is the concrete toilets, which are an interesting design. Naturally we sat outside for a while and like everyone else took a photo.
We had a cold drink back in our room and then a cheeky glass of wine before heading out for the table we had booked at The Rusty Pelican. It was good to be able to walk to it. We both had a pizza. They were very good but neither of us could finish them so took the leftovers back to the room with us.
In the room we finished off the wine whilst watching another episode of The Amazing Race which we are both now getting into. Karen watched Bridget Jones Baby but I sent to bed.