Arrived in Auckland after an uneventful flight of 3 hours. The biosecurity was rather strict but necessary in order to protect the environment. Picked up the car – a brand new Suburu Liberty and it goes very well. Drove into Auckland (with the help of the GPS) and checked into our hotel – Rydges. Went for a walk down the main street to the waterfront. Caught a ferry to Devonport (12 minute ferry ride to the city). It is a very quaint village with great shops and homes. Had dinner in a little pizza parlour and returned to Auckland city seeing the lights of the tower and city central.
Left Auckland early Friday morning and travelled to the Bay of Islands (Paihia) which was an easy drive up Highway 1. After checking in at our motel, we visited Whaitangai Treaty Ground where the Maoris and English signed a treaty in 1840. The NZ history is very different to Australia and the Maori culture is fascinating and very spiritual. Had dinner in a bistro, chatting with an English couple on a bus tour.
Saturday morning saw us having breakfast at the wharf and then onto a 4 hour cruise to The Hole in the Rock and sight seeing the Bay of Islands. Then back to Russell where we visited the oldest Church in NZ and had lunch in the oldest licenced pub in NZ. Russell was the original capital of NZ and has an interesting history – now a major tourist destination. Back to Paihia for a quick nap and then caught a bus back to Whaitangi for a light and sound show telling the history of New Zealand with Maori singing and dancing. Very informative and very well done. It included a traditional maori greeting including the haka! A most memorable evening and the Maori’s are definitely very proud of their heritage.
Today we are off to 90 mile beach and the very top of the North Island. Hopefully we will get to do some sand boarding and visit a Kauri museum. Will write more when we get the chance.