Just a few words to let you know how it all went!
The travel arrangements from Harrogate to NZ Went well we all had seats together on the plane so that was good and Air New Zealand is a reasonable airline to fly with even though we could not have the extra leg room seats as we usually do as my Mum is over 65! The seats had enough room to be able to move your legs and wide enough to breath.
Unfortunately when we arrived in Auckland at 6.30am we did find that there had been a mistake in the booking and our room had not in fact been booked for the night before enabling us to use it straight away. This is dreadful after such a long flight as all you really want to do is collapse for a few hours and sleep flat on a bed. The Mecure Hotel were very good and did get our rooms ready for 11am so not that long to wait in the coffee bar area.
The Mercure Hotel is a bit tired looking from the outside but the position couldn’t be better as it is very near both the shops and the Harbour area which we like as there are some excellent fish restaurants there which we enjoyed immensely. Due to the mistake with the booking we did end up with an extra unexpected night in Auckland so we were able to fit in a several trips.
On the afternoon of the first day we had a walk around the Harbour area (some lunch) and a wander round the shops. We went up the Skytower and enjoyed the views but none of us could be persuaded to try the Sky Dive from the top. Auckland is a compact inner city shopping area with mostly tourist shops but as you go towards the outskirts there is a large shopping area with a massive selection for those who love to shop – there was even a shop selling nothing but ‘Crocks’ those rubbery sandals but in a selection of colours which had to be seen to be believed.
That night we ate at the Harbour side in a very good restaurant full of locals having a leisurely Sunday evening meal. We chose a seafood platter which was a wonderful selection of locally caught fish and the obligatory NZ green lipped muscles.
Up bright and early as the jet lag needed sorting so we try to get into local time as quickly as possible. We went to Parnell which has lovely Craft, Art and Knick knack shops we usually try to buy some local art and were fortunate to find 2 pictures inspired by Maori culture. We then went to The Auckland Museum and saw a splendid selection of Maori artefacts’ and learned a little of the history of NZ. We then decided to fit in a quick trip to the Botanical Gardens, these are wonderful and free so many hours could be spent here looking at all the different plants and spotting the ones that we call house plants at home. Back to the hotel for a bit of a rest before heading out for another meal that night.
Up early again ready for our trip up to the Bay of Islands – Unfortunately it was raining so a dreary drive but luckily when we got there the day dried up and we were able to wander along the coast in front of our hotel. The Copthorne Resort Waitangi can be recommended what a beautiful setting. Our rooms were overlooking the bay and opened out onto a grassed area leading down to the shore. Wonderful! Found it had been a long day so decided to eat in the hotel that night and set off to see the 90 mile beach and the light house at Cape Reinga. What spectacular scenery, we decided to through caution to the winds and drive a little way along the 90 mile beach (yes it is forbidden to take hire cars on the beach) there was white sand for as far as the eye could see and a selection of shells to collect as a keepsake. Back at the hotel and another wander along the shore worked up an appetite for trying a local restaurant – fish again, it is our favourite so no problem there.
Shame not to be staying a bit longer here as it is so peaceful and relaxing but lots more to see.
Off today to Tauranga to visit Sandra’s Uncle. Another long drive but the scenery is enough to keep us awake for most of the journey. We got to Tauranga and found the Sebel Trinity Wharf. Lovely room the best one of our stay in NZ spoiled only by having a view of the Car Park but as we were only staying one night and mostly visiting family it wasn’t a problem. We spent the afternoon and evening with my relations and got up the next morning to a beautifully sunny day this is the hottest it has been since we came. We had a delicious breakfast at the hotel and set off for a guided tour of Tauranga and a walk round Mount Mauao Reserve and the Salt flats near my Uncles house.
Time passes quickly and it was soon time to set off to Rotorua.
It was only a short drive (hourish) to Rydges Hotel. Mm looked fine from the outside but it is immediately apparent it is in need of a thorough update. Our rooms were deluxe spa rooms which we laughed when we found that in addition to a bathroom there was another area at the front of the room which contained another bath with spa jets. Now this bath had been cleaned so much its surface was matt and scratched. What was worse was the fact that it was positioned on the outer wall so there was only a small window area leading on to a balcony overlooking the race course; this along with the dark colours the room was painted in made it feel dark and dingy.
Unfortunately it was a bit too far out of town to be able to walk so it did necessitate taking the car out every night. We did look at eating in the restaurant on the first night but to be honest it just did not grab us and the menu was uninspiring. Off in to town to try Cobb and Co Steak House.
This morning we set off to find the Agro Jet Boat ride that Dave had been looking forward to – Just like a small boy his face was a picture as he was blasted round the muddy water 360 spinning and hairpin bends! Not my type of thing but great to watch someone else having fun.
We then went to the Volcanic TE PUIA area for a walk among the sulphur springs and bubbling pools.
Lots to do in Rotorua
More to follow
Dave and Sandra