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Land of the Long White Cloud

Day One

Why are New Zealanders so nice?

Every time one arrives in Aoteroa one is struck by how friendly everyone is. Being a misanthrope and pessimist, I’m compelled to think that, people being people, New Zealand must have its fair share of nasty folk too; but I’ve never met one.

For example, Sonya, the fresh-faced border patrol officer we encountered on arrival at the airport, was only full of smiles and reassuring comments as she X-rayed our luggage on the lookout for any contraband we might be carrying.

Then there was Ree Ree. She is a lovely forty-something year old native woman who must be one of the nicest humans I’ve ever met. As she executed her massage skill on my flabby and jetlagged body she kindly and gently explained the native history of Aotearoa.

Amazingly the Maori have an oral tradition of memorizing their ancestor’s family names. Ree Ree recited for me 30! generations of her family as she jabbed her elbow into the sore spots of my aching old body.

I’m sad to say I have no such recollection of my family history.

I love New Zealand.

Day Two

We walked through Auckland city, up and up, to climb to the summit of one of the many volcanic cinder-cones that are dotted about its perimeter. One of the most prominent ones: Mount Eden offer spectacular views of Auckland city and its surrounds.

The weather has been warm, but with rain off and on all day. Still it was worth the wet and windy weather to experience the views of this spectacular city.

Auckland has many great vegan food options, which surprised Julia and me. We found one, the Gorilla Kitchen, and ate a delicious lunch there on our way back down to the noisy and construction filled city.

Day Three

Up early, out for a morning cappuccino, and then onto the ferry for a short but scenic sail across to Devonport. We have discovered that the weather is very changeable in Auckland. This morning the skies opened, and a torrent of rain poured down, then the wind picked up and blew at hurricane force. Still we took shelter in the sleepy little hamlet of Devonport. It seemed to defy the onslaught of harsh weather. It is filled with shops and restaurants, which offered us refuge as the storm blew through.

When things settled down, we continued walking up the street where we came upon a very friendly old man. He chatted to us about New Zealand and his home Devonport. The conversation was rather one-sided, but we enjoyed hearing what he had to say. Continuing, our hike had us climb up another volcanic cinder-cone as Devonport is dotted with them too.

We hiked up to: Takarunga or Mount Victoria. Here we looked back at the city of Auckland through the harsh weather, with loving eyes.

We were waylaid by a quick photo shoot of three Chinese women and then we descended and continued to the second cinder-cone: Maungauika or the North Head Historic Reserve. Here again the views of Auckland were spectacular.

Day Four

It was so cold and rainy today we sought indoor activities. We discovered Escape Maters, which is gaming puzzle room where one must try to escape, within 60 minutes. We’d heard of this fun activity, but this was the first time we’d experienced it.

Julia and I were locked (not really) into a haunted hotel that was the final resting place of many a lost soul. We had to discover a way out by locating clues, interpreting them, and solving many puzzles. We came close to escaping the room within the given time, but alas we failed. And so, our souls are lost for eternity to perpetual damnation. But then they were anyway.


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