Friday, 6 December 1996

Homeward Bound

Pack, visit the aquarium, then catch the coach to Auckland, then taxi to the airport, to find that the plane is delayed several hours with a broken windscreen. Avail ourselves of the business class hospitality suite for the 4 hour delay - which leads to a zero-time stop-over at LAX as we just march from one plane to the next.

And so home again, to early winter and short days.

All in all a wonderful time, despite lousy weather at times. The food is excellent, and by EU standards, very cheap. I would highly recommend it as a place to go (despite the two 12-hour legs of the flight there). Just don't try to see all of it at once. We were there 4 weeks, didn't even attempt the South Island, and hardly had time to catch our breaths while we were being shown a little bit of everything.

Thursday, 5 December 1996

Uttermost North

Did the obligatory tour up to the utmost north, stopping at the Puketi Kauri kingdom, to admire the huge trees, then up the Ninety Mile Beach, stopping at the north end to body-board down the dunes at Te Paki, and thence to the very tip of the island.

And there it is, Cape Reigna, with its lighthouse, where Indian and Pacific Oceans meet, and the spirits of the Maori make last landfall before heading north into the spirit world.

A bit of a hiccup as the coach runs out of fuel as we start back, and diesel has to be dragged from the stores at the cape and poured into the tank through a makeshift funnel.

Back via purveyors of local honey, and where semi-fossilised (20kyr+ old) kauri wood is excavated and sold (buy a salad spoon and fork set, and a bowl).

Dine at the Saltwater Café again, then wander to a dark part of the beach and show Karen the Magellanic Clouds and other features of the southern sky.

Wednesday, 4 December 1996


Lazy morning, then I join a kayaking tour around the estuary, with a guide who has got things figured out just right - spending the summers kayaking in Canada, then the summers kayaking in New Zealand. For myself, I didn't manage too badly in amongst the mangroves, but the pedal steering goes the wrong way according to my intuition, so tryng to catch everyone up on the open water, I ditched and rolled - the escape being automatic and reflexive, and getting back in again simple. I accepted a tow from the guide, but managed to ditch again when I tried steering, so ended up a passive tow, and then walked back home from the falls which were the half-way point of the tour. Meanwhile Karen window shopped, and took a short bush walk.

Dined at Tides, where they served excellent red wine scandalously young - they were already serving the '95 vintage! So we bought a few bottles to see in 2000 with, and by then it had had some chance to mature, and was wonderful.

Tuesday, 3 December 1996


We joined a swim-with-dolphins trip at dawn, under leaden skies. After 3 hours we find a pod, but they have young (one still showing creases in the side where it had been curled up before birth), so we are not allowed to get into the water. We follow them, watching them feed, for about an hour. In the afternoon, while Karen dozed, I went out for a ramble. Dinner at Khushbu, an Indian vegetarian restaurant.

Monday, 2 December 1996


It's enough even to tempt Karen into shorts. We take the ferry across to Russell, where I wander around the hillside, and Karen swims. Dinner at Bistro 40.

Sunday, 1 December 1996

Bay of Islands

Farewell to Uncle Brian, who is returning home, then we catch the coach up to Paihia, in the Bay of Islands, far to the north. The rain is coming down in the bucket-loads as we wait for the coach, and as we depart Auckland, the roads seriously awash. It peters out into misty drizzle during the day. Dine at the Saltwater Café.