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2024 - January - Day 19 - Waitangi

Being the seasoned travellers, we were both up, showered, breakfasted and packed by 9am. We had the usual argument that I felt we had brought far too much luggage with us (I reckon we both could have got away with at least a third less each) and now we had accumulated a large bag and box of food all of which I had to carry down the stairs to the car.


Our plan before our drive back to Auckland was to visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds that were only a mile or so from our motel. We were paying the rather steep $60 entrance fee each at 9.30am and were booked onto the Guided Tour for 10am and the Cultural performance at 11am.


Before I get onto our visit, I overhead some Kiwi’s talking referring to the admission cost being ‘60 bucks’ which I suddenly realised that I had heard many times on this trip. It is an Americanism that I had never really thought about before alone why it has been adopted over here. I had to google it to find out why and it seems it relates before money was widely adopted in the States, ‘buckskins’ were used as trading currency. I assume that it is just the fact that over here they have NZ dollars that they have just copied the same term.


Speaking about money, I brought some NZ cash with me. However, the only time I have needed to use it was to purchase my losing lotto ticket yesterday and I assume that had something to do with trying to ‘gamble’ using my credit card and therefore having it declined. The sooner we move to a cashless society in my opinion the better. And whilst we are doing it, let’s adopt one worldwide currency to make it easier for everyone. To avoid argument let’s all us ‘groats.


Back to Waitangi. This is our second visit. On the first one in 2018 we arrived too late to have the guided tour and see the cultural performance which Karen was keen to rectify. Whilst waiting for the tour to begin we wandered around the museum whilst earning the background to the treaty of 1840 including a short film which explained it quite well.


The tour started outside the museum and was well narrated by CeCe or whatever she called herself. She did admit her real name was Caitlyn which I thought was much prettier. She took us to the Wanga boathouse which was being prepared for its annual launch next week in the presence of the Governor General and the NZ Prime Minister as part of the ceremony for Waitangi Day. This is apparently the largest bored out ‘boat’ in the world.


We then were told about the flagpole erected to mark the exact point where the signing took place (but actually in slightly the wrong place) and then told we could walk round what is now known as the Treaty House.


Then it was time for the cultural performance in the Te Whare Runanga which is the Maori Meeting House. There was a traditional welcome outside before we were allowed in once it had been confirmed we came in peace. After removing our shoes and being seated we were entertained with some surprisingly angelic and musical songs ending with the Haka. I was very impressed by the performance and was pleased to have been able to witness it all.


Following this we headed to the café where we found a table with good view to sit at whilst having our hot drinks and snacks. The weather was cloudy but still a lovely 26c.

Then we started the 3-hour journey back to Auckland, the last real drive of the holiday (apart from Heathrow to home). I think I just encountered the final 3 mountain ranges I had to go over. We had a quick toilet stop at Waipu but apart from that managed it without any holdups or stops.


Since being away we had cancelled our booking in Auckland at the Holiday Inn Express in for 2 nights favour of a last-minute Airbnb booking in an apartment. There was no cost difference but we gained use of a whole apartment, free parking (which would have cost $60 per day) and a 3rd night – which we would not use but would allow us to stay until we leave late for our late 11.30pm flight to Hawaii.


Anyhow we found the address easy enough and it was like an escape room with the steps of locating the key box, then the garage entrance, the parking spot and then using various keys and fobs to get to the lift to the flat. For those who remember such things it was rather like the old NU flat in Piccadilly – the demise of which we still mourn.


The flat was fine in that it was large, clean and safe. It also had another free washing machine and within minutes Karen was taking full advantage – twice. It wasn’t until we had been there a while that we realised there were doors that were blocked off, almost as if the flat had been divided up at some point. The view out of the window was just the back side of other buildings.


After this we walked to the Depot Eatery which was almost under the Sky Tower. It was raining as went along which was disappointing. The restaurant was busy which considering the cost was surprising. The only reason we had chosen it was that we had £150 credit to use in restaurants outside of the UK from our Amex Platinum card and Auckland was the first and only place on all our planned trips this year where we could utilise it.


We ordered a carafe of Rose followed by some Snapper Sliders each for a starter followed by a shared plate of Sole with some Potato Skins. The food was of a good quality but I would not have been happy paying the whole cost with my own funds. We have enough credit left to try another restaurant on the list tomorrow.


It was a short walk back to the apartment where we caught up with a few messages and watched some rubbish on TV before turning in for the night.


Finally, one other thing I learnt from the drive to day that the song ‘Stumblin In’ we keep hearing on the radio is not the original but a new version by Cyril – Nice One.

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