A Travellerspoint blog

New Zealand - part 1 (yep gonna have a few of these too!)

Chilling with the family - Mangawhai and North shore, Auckland

sunny 22 °C
View Around the world in a few months! on Labgirluk's travel map.


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So the plane landed an hour late, I had to declare my boots as I'd been hiking in them in Australia, and also that I'd been touching/handling animals other than domestic cats and dogs. The boots got checked and all bags sent through the x-ray machine; the animal handling they didn't even ask about!
Met my great aunt Michelle (my dad’s uncle’s wife), who had kindly agreed to let me stay with her for the few days between arriving in New Zealand and the start of my next tour. She lives up near Mangawhai (pronounced mangafai) on the auckland/northland border so meant I could visit an area that wasn’t included in my tour. As she was off on a hunt over the weekend we had a few days to visit the northland area and then I’d be heading to my cousin’s (well my dad’s cousin) who lives nearer Auckland City for the weekend before heading to the hotel for the tour start.
On the Monday we didn’t get home till 3am so a lie in was in order and a rest day was very welcome. Michelle lives on a farm so got to meet many of the animals as I wandered around. We also headed into the nearby town of Wellsford to get a few essentials – namely a NZ sim card so I was back in contact with the world and not reliant just on WiFi and then had a quick drive around of the local area. It was pretty but as the tide was out some of the views weren’t as spectacular as they could have been. The highlight was the visit to the local chocolate shop, Bennetts. Some seriously good chocolate there, especially their 42 degrees below variety (feijoa fruit liqueur in a white chocolate case).
Tuesday saw us head into Warkworth as Michelle had a full morning of dog grooming on. This was a lovely little town set alongside a river, but was weird seeing a street sign for Alnwick street. There was also a sign indicating all the other Warkworth’s it was associated to, including the one down the road from my friends in Northumberland... I headed for a mooch around the shops before going for a walk along the river. At times it really felt like I was back in UK as the trees were losing their leaves rather than the bark, like in Australia.. It’s definitely autumn here, even though I was still in shorts and strappy t-shirt and rather warm... After lunch we headed to some friends of Michelle’s who’d invited us around for afternoon tea (well lemonade in my case) and cake. A rather lovely house with an amazing view and a tasty cake was eaten, along with some gossip and a good chat... That evening I cooked. I was making stroganoff again but with beef mince. This time I checked that the paprika in the cupboard was the correct version and not the hot version that I’d accidentally used in Tasmania! No desire to blow heads off again! Thankfully this one was a success and went down well...
Wednesday saw us heading north towards the Bay of Islands via a stop a Whangarei, a walk around the harbour – and a nice ice cream on the way around - and a stop at Kawakawa to admire the Hunterwasser designed toilets! From there we drove to Opua and caught the car ferry across the water to Russell. You can drive there but it takes quite a bit longer so we opted for the quick car ferry route. Once docked we drove into Russell and found somewhere to park up. We had been recommended to have lunch at the Duke of Marlborough so off we went. Food was OK but probably not worth the cost. The view was good as we were looking over the bay. We had a little walk around and then went for a drive to long beach and then headed up to the flagstaff lookout for a lovely view of the Bay of Islands. Once we had visited everything we wanted to we headed back to the car ferry and back to Opua so we could go to our lodgings for the night – the very comfy spare rooms at some friends of Michelle (and she has many of them). We settled in and got changed for a meal out in Paihia to celebrate her friend Wendy’s birthday. We went to a restaurant called Charlotte’s Kitchen, right at the end of the wharf. Food was good too and good company.
Thursday morning saw us heading back to Paihia to go out on a 3 hour cruise around the Bay of Islands. Within 45 mins of leaving we encountered the promised dolphins – bottlenose ones – happily swimming in front of the catamaran. We even got to see a mum with 2 young, one of which seemed intent on nipping its sibling’s tail fin, while still cruising in front of the boat. No acrobatics though... We were shown various islands and areas of interest before heading out to the ‘hole in the rock’. If the conditions are right the boat can make it through the hole but unfortunately for us the wind direction meant that there would have been a high chance of the boat being splatted against the nasty looking rocks at the entrance. Instead we got to see masses of fish just below the surface (eating some surface algae I think) – quite an incredible sight. I stood up the front of the boat during the cruise back to Paihia and saw lots of other birds diving for fish etc. All very beautiful and a lovely morning out on the water.
Once back on land we went to find a quick bite to eat before heading back home. Michelle had been a tad seasick on the cruise (!) so let me drive home... I did rather enjoy that! Once home we fed the animals (2 pigs, 7 goats, 2 horses, 3 miniature horses, 3 cats, 4 dogs and a whole bunch of chickens) before collapsing on the sofa for the evening – well till another of Michelle’s friends turned up. She stayed for dinner so some more chatting was done over dinner.
Friday was lie in morning while Michelle groomed a dog, then we took her horse truck to be fixed (another jaunt in her car) before coming back and heading out on the quad bike to check on the cows.. Was great fun being a quad bike passenger but very bouncy... Fixed a fence in a couple of places where the cows had managed to push their way through (tasty grass on the other side) before feeding the animals, collecting the horse truck, packing the horse truck and finishing my packing.. Michelle was heading off hunting at the weekend so had arranged with a cousin (well 2nd cousin really – she’s dad’s cousin who he’s never met), who lived on outskirts of Auckland, for me to stay there for a couple of days.
We travelled down to Orewa, where we met Lisa, had dinner (nice Thai place we found), swapped my bags from one car to the other and then I headed off into the unknown with a new relative... Home for the next 2 nights was in the area of Unsworth heights on the North shore of Auckland with Colin, Lisa and their gorgeous German shepherd, Hood.
On Saturday we had a drive around, had a coffee with one of their sons (Mat), and stopped at one tree hill, within Cornwall Park, for a walk up and look out over Auckland and surrounding area. Currently it’s multiple tree hill as some person decided to hack at the one tree that was there and killed it so there are a few trees growing and will be cut back to just the one again once they’ve grown to the correct size. Once up high you can see the layout and how all the other hills are ex volcanoes.. Not a lot else to visit so we headed home, vegged in the hot tub for a while with a drink and then had a tasty roast for a very late dinner..
Sunday morning was a lie in/veg day as it was chucking it down outside. Nearly opted for another veg out in the hot tub but we decided that we should go out and do a bit more sightseeing while in the area. This time we headed over to the west coast (not very far in this part of nz to be honest!) and piha. No getting out of the car nor picture taking as the weather was just plain miserable. A late lunch was had at Park Road Kitchen in Titirangi. Extremely nice food and very filling too.
This ended my chill out time and time to be dropped off at the hotel in the city centre for the start of my next tour...

Posted by Labgirluk 11:38 Archived in New Zealand Tagged auckland one_tree_hill dolphins paihia northland bay_of_islands piha russell whangarei mangawhai hole_in_the_rock

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