Here we go, super excited about this trip!
Having had an emotional reunion with Nadia’s son and his girlfriend, who went to Auckland in 2017, we went out for dinner. Giacomo and Lauren took us to Tok Tok, a fushion style restaurant, where we had a lovely meal and evening.
Today we ventured into the CBD in search of pay-as-you-go sims for our mobiles and found this nice Greek-style cafe bar.
Giacomo took us to his rowing club and showed us around. It was interesting to compare it to the Clydesdale Rowing Club back in Glasgow where he started his career in the sport.
Time to start exploring Auckland, and so we contacted friends of ours who live outside the city and they suggested that we meet for dinner in Devonport, a fabulous ‘olde worlde” suburb. We had a great evening playing catch-up and finally got a taxi back to Nadia’s son’s house, our base for this period of our trip.
Devonport ferry terminal and a view of the CBD.
Another day to acclimatise, and so we headed into downtown Auckland to see the city.
We visited the town of Oneroa and enjoyed the laid back artistic vibe of the place. Then later in the day we walked back to the ferry terminal through the woodland and countryside to catch our return ferry.
We returend to Aukland after a lovely day on Onorio and saw some interesting images on the way.
Once back in town, we found a pleasant, quiet cafe and watched the world go by…
Time to head up to look down! I am not good with heights and it took an effort to step onto this glass floor, but I did it, however, we did decline the abseil down to tower!
We hired a car and headed out of Auckland, driving south to a lovely B&B outside of Cambridge. We were there to watch the Maadi Cup Rowing as Giacomo, Nadia’s son, was coaching several teams over the weekend.
In the evening we took Giacomo into Cambridge and had our dinner in a great local bar and restaurant.
Race day, and Nadia and I drove to Lake Karapiro, where we met up with Giacomo again. During today, we walked up to the starting line 2 kilometres away and watched the rowers coming down the track.
In the end Giacomo’s lads won, and we watched the award ceremony, bulging with pride, a couple of auld fogies cheering on the lad fae Glesca!
In the evening, we picked Giacomo up and went in to town to celebrate, wonderful!
We had another tour around town today before heading further south.
On our route south, we went to Hobbiton, the film tourist attraction. However, as neither of us are fans (not even seen the film!) and as the ‘Covid’ hysteria was building, resulting in ridiculous queues, we decided against going into the attraction and enjoyed the natural scenery instead.
On our trip south, we stopped at Tauranga and had a bite of lunch before driving to Rotorua.
Our motel room (1st floor) in Rotorua.
A grand building in town.
A tree called ‘The Giant’, the inner tag is “4BC Birth of Christ” & the outer label is “1939 WW2”!
Yours truly on the tree walk.
Part of the tree walk.
More of the tree walk.
Yours truly beside one of the trees.
Mauri art in town.
Toured the thermal springs and was amazed by the variety of colours, oh and the smell of sulphur!
Later in the day, we visited the Fancy Meow Cat Cafe, where you get to sit in a room with ‘hunners’ (lots of!) cats and enjoy a cup’o Java!
Another day, another thermal experience. We sure were getting used to the smell of sulphur!
Back at our accommodation, we got ready for a night out in town where we found a good steak house and enjoyed a lovely dinner.
Having walked to Huka Falls, we found that the last bus of the day had left! So we walked back to Taupo, some eight miles in all and we saw some lovely views.
Once back in town, we found a pop-up bar where we rested our weary legs and quaffed a few jugs of a local brew. Oh, and the barmaid provided us with rugs and shawls to keep us warm! Cool.
Our next stop was further south in Tongariro, where we had booked a lodge for two nights.
Covid-19, which up to this point had been almost invisible, started to rear its ugly head, and by day two, we had decided that, due to rapidly deteriorating government advice, we would cut our trip short and head back to Auckland. We planned to catch a train to the south island in about a week, little did we know!
We popped in here both evenings for something to eat as we found it quiet and peaceful. The food was good too!
After much thought, we decided on a lovely ‘motel’ in Davenport on the outskirts of Auckland. So, we pitched up and were shown to a beautiful set of rooms around the back. We also discovered just how small a world it can be. We found that the owner’s partner was not only Scottish, but a Glaswegian like us! It also transpired that he knew a friend of mine back home!!
Today we rested and stocked up on groceries.
We walked up the hill to the viewing point in Mount Victoria Reserve and snapped a couple of views, including a local dwelling.
Another day, and another walk! This time to Cheltenham Beach! More birds and houses too!
Back at our motel on, of all places, Buchanan Street, not only a famous Glasgow Street, but also my late wife’s maiden name!! we arranged to leave our lodgings early and book an Airbnb IN Auckland near Giacomo, as the ever strict government had decreed that where one was at midnight on Wed 24th March, one had to remain indefinitely. Our Davenport motel was fabulous. However, it was an hour and a half from Giacomo and Luren. We figured if we were to be “locked up” for the rest of our five-week trip, it made sense to be able to see the kids.
So in the late afternoon, Lauren drove over and picked us up and took us to the Airbnb, where we got pizza and had dinner together for the last time!
At this point, New Zealand had 12 positive PCR tests and no fatalities!
Today we started to explore our new, enforced surroundings, and as the weather was pleasant, we sat in the back garden and had lunch al fresco!
We walked to our local shop for some provisions and then met with Giacomo and had a walk in the park before returning to lockdown.
Due to lockdown, we spent much of our day looking at the garden! This wee fella popped into the garden during the afternoon.
Supermarket today! Due to the COVID restrictions I remained out side and Nadia did the shopping. This is me waiting!
Quiet day today during which we tried to rearrange our homeward bound flight, with no success!
Another day in lockdown trying to book a flight home!
Groundhog day, with a twist! We managed to get booked on a flight leaving on 14th April heading to London and we booked a hire car to drive up to Glasgow. Woo, woo!
Back our in the garden today after our yoga session!
Going stir crazy with lockdown and losing our ‘mojo’!
Met Giacomo and Lauren in the park for our walk today, which helped our spirits.
Things are starting to take their toll. Enforced lockdown in a foreign city is becoming a mental drag, but we are keeping each other going.
Running out of things to photograph!
On countdown to our departure and Giacomo and Lauren came around for a couple of drinks and to say our goodbyes. It was a difficult day, not knowing when we will all meet up again......
An airport transfer people carrier picked us up at about 9:00 am, and Giacomo came round to wave us off. En route to the airport, we picked up a family who had also managed to book seats on the Air Malaysia flight out of Auckland bound for London.
It was odd to be able to chat with someone else finally and to hear about their lockdown experience. It turned out that they had spent it in a hired campervan!
Once at the airport, we were checked in and moved through to departures. It was surreal as everything was shut, and we were the only flight out of Auckland that day!
We finally landed in London at about 9:30 am UK time after a short stopover in Kuala Lumpur during the night where, again, we were the only folk in a deserted airport.
Next up, we managed to find our car hire operator and conclude the hire agreement process, after which we set the satnav and set off for Glasgow, an 8 - 9 hour drive.
We had another surreal experience as we drove north, and for much of the journey, we were the only folk on the road!
And so, a very different visit to New Zealand from the one we had planned drew to a close as we arrived in Glasgow in the mid-evening.
Maybe we will get to go back one day and do what we had hoped to.......