We didn’t linger in Auckland. We arrived three days later than planned (Qantas grounded all planes) and were keen to get on the road again.
After collecting the campervan, we headed north out of the city to Orewa Beach Top 10 Holiday Park.
The first thing I noticed was the unfamiliar sounds the birds made. In a country that so often resembles Britain in its landscape, to hear and see such unusual birds reminded me that I was in a very different country.
We had one night here, resting and recuperating before driving to Russell the next day. On the recommendation of a friend we were yet to meet, we made a detour to visit the Puhoi Valley Cheese Company.
While we were there, we picked up some cheese for supper, indulged in some homemade ice cream and took in the view.
After an all too brief stay in Russell, we returned to Orewa the following day. My friend in Melbourne had put us in touch with her friend in Auckland, and we were spending the next day with her, hence the short trip to Russell. Losing those 3 days was seriously messing up our plans to take it easy.
That evening we were surprised to see the local fire station were hosting a bonfire and fireworks event. It was November 5 and Bonfire Night is celebrated in New Zealand. It was absolutely rammed, Phil and I lost each other in the crowds, the traffic jam brought the town to a standstill, and as we needed an early night we went back to one of the campsite lounges and watched the fireworks from there. A little bit of England in New Zealand.
The next morning we had an early start to get into Auckland to meet Alyson. She used to work for the cheese company and it was she who had suggested we visit.
After our day out to Waiheke Island, she offered to make us dinner and put us up for the night. The kindness of strangers never ceased to amaze me in this country. These were the views from her apartment.
Refreshed after a night in a real bed – armed with a must see list from Alyson – our road trip in New Zealand really began. Towns with strange sounding and difficult to pronounce names, hot beaches and snow capped mountains, Art Deco buildings and vineyards, I was already in love with this country. Yet I had no idea what it still held for Phil and I to discover.