Tag Archives: Auckland

Auckland and farewell to NZ

Lou had been working hard to get the car details out and about in the hope of a quick sale of it and all the camping stuff that we had.  Of course, it is never that simple and we had had no bites at all from the posts she had put up.

For our final period in Auckland, she had arranged for us to stay at a workaway in the Mt Eden area. Right up on the hill at the end of the road, the house was at the end of a steep drive. Rented by Kharen, a single mum and Alex, her lovely 12 year old daughter, she had decided that with the hours she worked, the large garden would never be brought under control unless she got help and so her looking for workaways. It was great fun. We lived in an enormous room on the ground floor with probably as much floor space as our flat in Stockbridge. We were able to spread out, clean, wash and repack all the stuff we had acquired in NZ, separating what we would take back to the boat and what would be left behind.

The work on the garden entailed everyone getting involved. I did the noisy stuff and cut down some trees, Lou and the girls weeded and picked out huge numbers of unwanted bulbs and I even managed to do a little carpet laying to the outhouse, converted into a hideaway for Alex. I tried to make a new shelter under the deck area with a large tarp which looked good until the rain came. With not enough angle and too little tension, it failed. I understand that Kharen will try again with more angle and perhaps supports fitted too.

Of course it wasn’t all work. We had some great meals and chats with Kharen. Hannah was particularly appreciative of her time with Alex, someone who shares her love of art and is in this person’s humble opinion, exhibiting a considerable talent already.  There was a visit to the Auckland Zoo where Hannah, near beside herself,  got to see a baby giraffe (for those not in the know, her very, very favourite animal) and even a Kiwi in a special low light environmental area. No photos allowed though, so you get to see the sign.

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We had a good time doing the last real mall shopping we expect to be able to do until we either see Australia or perhaps the UK. Clothes were delivered back to Op shops, more clothes were handed down by Alex and bags were packed. I managed to run around a variety of boat shops and found most of my shopping list – new bearings for the main track, an acid wash for the water generator, West System epoxy, a gel coat repair kit, bulbs and copper strip being the main items.  Lou continued to try and get rid of the car but we still had no luck.  In the end, we took it back to the company that we bought it from, signed it in to their care for sale and left it with them for eventual disposal. It may take a while but we should get some money back in time.

We also managed to run out to see the Hobans for an evening, the Workaway family we stayed with back in November. We yet again had a lovely time with them and I hope that we will see (at least!) the kids on our side of the world when they spread their wings. Lovely people.

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We left NZ with a big smile on our faces. We had had a wonderful time, staying with four great families and meeting many more good people as we travelled around.  We were regularly blown away by the hospitality we encountered and the help and advice we received was excellent. Our thanks to you, the Shafts, Hoban, Sell and Hope families. You were wonderful and we hope that one day we will be able to return your hospitality.

And the sport and the outdoor lifestyle? Just marvellous. You don’t see many smokers (priced out of existence – $25+ a pack and rising at 10% a year) and you rarely see overweight – people are just too busy at either some sport or just out tramping. As someone said to us, there is as much pride shown here for someone that gets even to a district sports team as getting good exam results. The number of small towns we drove through with huge signs up, congratulating pupils getting in to a junior NZ team was great to see.

NZ is still a young country and there remain historic difficulties due to the land grabbing tactics of the original white settlers from the Maori clans. However, the modern acceptance and integration of Maori culture and acceptance of the debt suggests that the country is in a far healthier state than say USA, SA or Aus are with their indigenous minorities. The mania for rugby helps, of course. Don’t think I met a NZ child who didn’t know the haka and wasn’t intensely proud of where it came from!

Although we liked the cosmopolitan nature of Auckland, we both thought that it is getting too big , with an influence that is becoming even more pervasive than London is to the UK.  I’d suggest that if there are to be problems in NZ in the future, it will be because of this seemingly unchecked growth and the hoovering of resource, personal and finance, from the rest of the country. Whilst I enjoyed the warmth of the North, the majesty of the South Island attracts me massively and I’d love to explore that better. What a place. I think, as I have said before, it is Scotland on acid.

Would I go back to NZ? Could I live there?

Yes.

In a heartbeat.

Best thing I can say about a place, really.

NB. Be aware all views stated here in the singular form are solely the views of the author. They may or may not be subscribed to by the long haired Admiral!

PS. We will be returning to the UK on 6 Dec 2017. The flights are booked.

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Coromandel

The Coromandel is the popular peninsular and beach holiday area, just 60 miles from Auckland. Wildly popular during the holiday period, it had been recommended that we not visit it in the Christmas holidays on our travels S. On the basis everyone was back to work and school by the start of Feb, it seemed to make perfect sense to make it our last stop before we returned to Auckland.

We found a campsite which sounded rather interesting. A pool, close to a couple of towns with shops and a butterfly farm? We had to look. We had also made arrangements to met back up with the Belgium family who had taken a house somewhere on the W coast.

The campsite was a good one. A bit run down in places but the pool was good and the butterfly farm doubled up as a green house for exotic plants and flowers. You were supposed to pay each time you entered but Hannah didn’t read the script, made friends with the man who ran it and was constantly in and out of it. Eleanor took these photos.

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One of the great attractions of the Coromandel is Hot Water Beach. With hot springs bubbling up from under the sand, it allows you to dig your own pool and wallow in superheated water. Having borrowed spades from the campsite, it was about an hour drive across the peninsula. We stopped on the way and found an excellent dive shop where Eleanor equipped herself with a underwater noise maker and we all ate a good size lunch of fish and chips.

We arrived at the end of the road and walked the 500m out across the sand to where we joined a couple of hundred others digging out pools at low tide to wallow in. It didn’t take long to dig something impressive out. Along the beach over the length of maybe 200m, the water came out as simply steam (scalding) to where we dug our pit, somewhere in the 45-50C range. There were places in our wee pool where you simply couldn’t put your feet but it was fun once you learnt to to regulate the heat.  Running into the sea was as good as a cold plunge after a sauna and was wonderfully invigorating after the sulphurous smelling hot pool.

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For our trip across, we had picked up a guest, Caroline, a French dentist on an extended cycling tour of NZ staying at our campsite. She was a bit stuck as her bike had been stolen a couple of days before but it had been thankfully dumped and found quickly by a local with nothing stolen from it. The only issue was a broken derailleur whose replacement needed to come from Christchurch. We took pity on her and she came across to enjoy a day not being stuck in camp. NZ justice being as it was, the local cops had caught the thief within a day and to mitigate for the crime and save everyone’s time, got the thief to pay for the damage. She got her bike back, fully fixed the day we left for Auckland.

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As an interlude and final stop off before we headed back to the city, the Coromandel was a good choice. I’m not sure if it would be that great with the crowds there but in the off season, it suited us pretty well.

Lou phoned Kharen, the lady of our last workaway to see if we could arrive a day early to Auckland as the rain that had dogged us all the way back up the N island had caught up with us again. We packed a wet tent in the back of the car and drove a little less than two hours to Auckland.

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Exploring the North Island

We left Opua in convoy. We were loaded to the gunnels and Starcharger were carrying Lorna and George of Quatsino. Our first stop was at a batch beside the sea at Kaimaumau. As an explanation, many New Zealanders have a family holiday home, handed down through the generations. often by the sea. It is known as a batch. These days they are less popular as international travel becomes cheap enough for most to run up to Fiji, Tonga or Aus for holidays. However, many are available to rent, they don’t cost a great deal and most are built in beautiful and quiet spaces. 

We based ourselves there for three days and had a great time.

Day one saw us travel the final 80km to the northern most point of New Zealand – Cape Reinga. This is an important Mouri site as it is said that departing souls from the island travel to the Cape and lower themselves into the underworld, by way of the ancient Pohutukawa tree on the end of the rock outcrop, just to the W of the lighthouse.

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Day two took us to the wonderfully named 90 Mile Beach. It isn’t actually that long – it is only 80km – but the over exaggeration is forgiven. If you have a 4×4 veh, then the beach is open to you to drive on. With our poor beastie, we had to walk! We had fun bouncing up and down some of the huge sand dunes and the view along the beach was an endless beauty.

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The day before when we were travelling up to the Cape we had been staggered to see hills of sand towering above the rolling grass downs of Northland. These enormous dunes have built up as sand is thrown ashore by the prevailing W wind and are common on the W coast running N from Auckland. We visited a baby one with Amelie when we were staying with the Hoburns. Standing hundreds of feet high, the ones near the North Cape are a different scale altogether. They have spawned another great sport – sand boarding.

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The only trouble with said boarding is the effort of climbing up a couple of hundred feet of sand dune. Climbing sand isn’t easy at the best of times. Do it a couple of times and your lungs are bursting and your legs are jelly. We got to the point of using relays to get the all important boards back to the top. The girls loved it.  Alastair gave us the funniest descent, scattering the panicking watchers at the bottom of the hill with one of his banzai runs to everyone’s amusement. 

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We left the company of Starcharger and Quatisino as they headed back towards their boats and we headed down the W coast by ourselves.  We found that there was a ferry between Kohukohu and Rawene so rather than drive all the way back on to Highway 1, we took the recently graded W Coast Road which wound its way through the mountains. It was a great drive and the scenery was beautiful. The ferry took about half and hour. It was nice to be back on the water, even on just a stink boat!

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We stopped at the entrance to Kiapara Bay, the scene of a recent tragedy in November where a fishing boat was lost with eight deaths. The entrance to the bay is tricky with large sandbanks extending out over a mile. You can see two of them  with breakers in the photo below. It is a beautiful harbour once you are in. Sadly the fishing boat touched one of the banks and turned turtle in the 4m breakers. There were only three survivors.

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We have been hugely impressed by the land management that we have seen throughout the North island. Where once the UK went down the initially efficient but environmentally damaging hedge removal, NZ farmers have built hedges and whole tree lines to divide land blocks, proving shelter for stock and crops. We spotted this area as we drove to the Kia Iwi Lake campsite. The norm around the vineyards, it is quite common to see them around just normal blocks of land used for livestock, as seen here.  These tree lines are 40-50’ high.

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The Kia Iwi camp site was well set out and great fun. On a freshwater lake, it means endless splashing around for the kids in the surprisingly warm water and of course there were plenty of other smalls around to play with. Dad got involved too and there was a certain amount of tomfoolery protecting the swimming platform! We also met a great couple, well into their eighties who have invited us to visit them on our return to Auckland. Ex RAF but an émigré more than 50years ago, he still hasn’t lost the accent! We stayed at the site for three days and left with tears.

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Heading South, we drove into the area of NZ  that is the home of the giant Kauri trees. Once common across NZ, they were cut down in huge numbers in the 18th and 19th century for their hard wood. Now, very few are left, they are protected and NZ has started to replant them. It will take even longer than the UKs New Forest to grow back to glory as the trees grow slow and will last to over 3000years.  We visited the largest of them left named Tane Mahuta, The Lord of the Forest, thought to be about 2000years old, said to be a baby in comparison  to the monsters that were around a couple of hundred years ago. The other interesting fact around these trees is that they are the source of GUM, which once petrified becomes amber. A major industry of the 19thC was to collect the gum from the trees by scoring them or dredging up all the old amber that was plentiful in the swamps, melting it down and exporting it. Gum was sorted in to different grades and was used for make such stuff as jewellery, the first linoleum (providing the waterproofing) and gumboots. Want to know where that particular word for wellington boots came from? Look no further. Interestingly, the North British Rubber Company (now known as Hunter) based in Edinburgh was taking out adverts in the local papers asking folks not to buy the knockoff “gumboots” made here as far back as the 1870s!

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Our final stop before hitting Auckland again was at a campsite in the Tawharanui Peninsula Regional Park. The area is completely wired off to prevent stouts, rabbits and possums from getting in. It is a sanctuary for flightless birds and is one of the few sites with good numbers of kiwi. We didn’t see one although Eleanor says she heard one calling at night. We did see great numbers of Pukeka, another more common flightless bird. The beach was beautiful and and we saw lots of surfers returning to the camp happy after a day playing in the waves.

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We stopped in briefly to say hello at the Hoburn’s to pick up the left behind socks and Hannah’s Kindle. Then it was time to head into Auckland to meet up with Aislado and ZigZag for some Christmas celebrations. Northland is beautiful, warm and we have had great fun exploring it. As always, we wish we had more time to do it justice but what secrets we found, we have loved. Our thanks to Sarah and Mo for giving us so many hints and steers for our travels.

Time to turn our sights on the wilder lands of the South Island.

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Workaway – NZ Style

Sometimes, life treats you to a gem. We found one in the shape of the Hoban Family. It was with a little trepidation that we set out from Auckland to Albany where the Hobans live. Who would want travellers just to rock up at their house, having communicated only by email to check our compatibility, not knowing you from Adam? The Hoban’s, apparently.

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New Zealanders are big on showing off their country and even bigger in welcoming visitors. We had been pleased and surprised in Auckland when Lou, in having her eyebrows done at a beauty parlour, had fallen into conversation with a lady and her daughter who were getting their nails done. It turned out she lived up in the direction we were going and “would love for us to camp in her garden” when we reached her area. She handed us her phone number and address and instructions to find the house. We left slightly stunned with the sheer in your face-ness of her friendliness. We have found the same basic characteristic everywhere we have gone.

Both workaway and woofing (working on an organic farm) are a big deal and established practises here. It is a great way for typically poor young backpackers to get around NZ. You live at a farm or a house and work there, earning your bed and board.  We, as a travelling family, are a bit of an oddity but the Hobans read our blog and decided they wanted to meet us.

We arrived and the first word out of our mouth was “wow”. The house is a new build that they completed two years ago. Maurice and Sarah designed it themselves to be as energy efficient and economical as possible. They equipped it with very efficient double glazing and a huge array of solar panels which feeds back to the grid and brings their electricity bill down by a large amount. Maurice reckons that they paid for their installation in 18 months. It is, typical of housing in New Zealand, a  bungalow. Lots of land space and lots of earthquakes have taught them the value of wooden framed houses close to the ground! The design at the back of the house incorporates massive floor to ceiling windows giving the kitchen and main living area fantastic views all around. Throw in a large decked area and sitting in a couple of acres plot, you have a glorious living space. 

Maurice and Sarah had been travellers themselves and having travelled from the UK to NZ, where Maurice was from to settle, they decided to be as accommodating and helpful to folk of the same ilk as they had found themselves treated by strangers on their journey.  They have three kids, Finn, Amalie and Theo who are great and didn’t seem to mind being invaded by us. Our two, of course, threw themselves in to the kids action with wild abandonment. They have been missing kids’ company and 3+2 became a very happy feral mix.

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I did some little projects for them, rebuilding a door frame, clearing the garage up and putting up wire for their climbing plant frames around the back of the house which cost me a squashed finger when I cocked up and tried to swage my finger in with the wire. I felt a right prat. I also had a great time with a petrol strimmer, clearing one of the slopes too steep for a mower over a couple of days. It was so nice to do land based projects with boys toys tools! Lou did work around the house and the kids helped to walk Frodo. We would normally work in the morning and then head out to explore places suggested by Sarah. And what places, all within an hour of the house, both sides of the country. The weather had been wild and the seas at the beaches were spectacular. Lou and the girls visited a gannet colony and beach at the Muriwai Regional Park,  The pathway took you very close to the birds who were not bothered by you at all.

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Amalie guided us to the less well known Lake Wainamua, an inland lake on the W coast which, due to the prevailing winds has huge black volcanic sand dunes, drifting up a valley.  It was closer to powder than sand and you couldn’t help coming away black. There we were introduced to the delight of sand dune boarding. It all went well until Hannah got on, forgot to brake and hit the bottom going way too fast, wiping out spectacularly in true cartoon cartwheel style. There were tears.

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Walking down towards the beach took us past an excellent little mobile cafe. Hot chocolate and a lolly took precedence over another beach view and Lou and I were heartlessly deserted after the wallet had been fleeced.

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Talking about fleecing, we finally found a decent number of sheep on one of our walks. Hannah, of course, needed a photo.

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The NZ philosophy of life includes a need for being busy outside and I’d suggest is far less sedentary than the typical UK lifestyle. There are bike tracks and walks taking you to endless great views everywhere you go . There is a constant reference to sport, boating, hunting, camping, trail walks or just being out and about. And the facilities are there for you to be able to do so. There are huge national and regional parks, well run and looked after, set aside for people to disappear in to and explore.

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And the playparks inside towns? Wonderful places with great toys for the kids to run riot on.

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Eleanor and Hannah both got to go to Amalie’s and Theo’s school for a day too. I think they were both secretly glad that they found themselves easily able to deal with the work they were set. They were pleased and surprised to learn that it is still enshrined in law that NZ kids in the summer months are allowed to come to school in bare feet! There was also the schools swimming pool to play in. You buy a family key for access and it is a great meeting place to cool down in the hot afternoon sun.  Note the inappropriate sides that no-one injures themselves on. Health and Safety morons haven’t really managed to break in to NZ society yet. Long may it last. On another civilised NZ trait – did you know it is not possible to sue over personal injury? You use a facility on your own assessment of its danger to you. You have to think of the consequences of your actions and there is little sympathy if you are a prat. Your fault if you screw up. However, the state will pick up any medical bills to fix you. Same goes for car accidents. Whoever causes the accident simply gets hammered by the courts and the state pays out a reasonable compensation. Whilst some would argue they are not perfect, laws like this would put half the current legal professions of the USA and UK out of work and might change the disastrous blame culture that seems to be prevalent in both countries. An idea to look at, I’d suggest.

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All told, we spent just over a week with the wonderful Hoban family. And we loved it. They are marvellously welcoming and I think they provided us with just about the perfect reintroduction to family living on land. We said our goodbyes and left for the drive up towards Opua and the Bay of Islands where our sailing friends were about to arrive in to after finishing their long Pacific crossing to the safety of NZ waters.

We are hoping we will get the chance to see the Hobans again before we leave. There is a golf game that would be great to get to but may not be possible due to the travel plans to go to but we are hopeful we will see them in the New Year, possibly even down on the S island where they will be camping. Either way, I am hoping that we will be able to reciprocate their hospitality one day. 

For anyone thinking about trying workaway or woofing, there are sites that you can find people interested in hosting you. Expect a bit of too and fro as you nail down what each party want out of the arrangement but if you go in to it with an open mind, you will find yourself well rewarded, having the chance to meet some great people and being able to experience true local culture far better than any package holiday.

Look here at the Workaway website

For woofing in New Zealand only, look HERE or

For international woofing, look HERE instead.

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New Zealand–the first few days

We arrived in Auckland tired after the long journey and a very early start in Tahiti. The girls both beat us up and were anxiously awake just before 0500, making sure that we wouldn’t have any difficulty in being on time for our plane.

As it was, they need not have worried. The queue was long and boring and whilst Dad got to stand in it, the girls and Lou went off to find out what the drumming was in the small international terminal. I got to see the local dancers walking out of the airport. Hannah got the end of their performance and of course, managed to get a photo of herself standing beside them.NZ

We got picked up by a German traveller, working for accommodation at the garage we had arranged to buy our car and home for the next three months from. Sid, the owner, met us at the garage, proved to be completely horizontal in attitude, handed us the keys and paperwork that needed to change ownership and then told us to come back once we had done so to get the money organised.  We were advised to take it to a separate garage for a $80 check out and I am glad we did. The garage picked up a couple of minor problems which I hadn’t which could have caused hassle later and Sid quickly fixed them.  The car, a 7 seat Toyota, has 250,000kkm on the clock but runs fine. Fingers crossed that lasts.

On one of our first wanders on foot to explore, we walked past the Henderson Middle School and had to get a photo!

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The Henderson name is a common one here. The Henderson area is named for a Thomas Henderson, a Scottish settler who came here in the early 1840s and bought the valley of 5000 acres then added another 5000acres of scrubland to expand into shortly after. Henderson Valley had a creek, mill and then township. In time the area became known simply as Henderson, a suburb of Auckland.

Lou had booked us in to the Fat Cat Travellers Hostel, an eco farm hostel, for our first two nights to allow us to settle in and organise ourselves. It proved to be a lucky and inspired choice. Fat Cats is, pretty much, a commune of likeminded travellers, a few permanent staff but with “house angels” allowed to work for their bed and board for periods of 3 weeks at a time. The rest of the guests pay and can either stay in tents, old broken down camper vans, caravans or in the main house, depending on how much you want to pay. Dinner and breakfast is thrown in and the atmosphere is relaxed, very friendly and very laid back. Tobacco seems to be allowed but alcohol, drugs and meat are all off the menu. The food is superb.

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This morning’s breakfast was pancakes,bread, porridge and a huge fruit salad. Dinner had more greenery in it than I have seen in months. A big plate load of veggie burger with humus topping on a green salad and bun with an avocado side salad and chips. Just glorious. Even though Lou and I had already been out to satisfy the craving for battered fish and chips, we stayed and had a second dinner, surprising ourselves both loving it and being able to finish it all. Vegan food can be, as I was warned, fantastic if there is someone with imagination doing the cooking.

It is amusing to have to introduce yourself after the communal dinner each night,  sitting where ever you could on a cushion on the floor, accepting a small task in cleaning up the house, drawn pot luck from a bag that went around.   Hannah got the task to “Kiss the Chef” which was enthusiastically completed with free hugs thrown in for pretty much everyone else. Both are loving mixing in with all the big people and made their name one morning by being caught moping the kitchen floor!

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Most of the guests are in their late teens and early twenties so Lou and I supply both the oldest faces here and with the girls, the youngest. But everyone wants to chat and I think we will end up coming back here at some point as we move around. It has been amusing as well seeing the looks of amazement when we tell them of our travels. I was even asked by one group for a look at the photos we have taken and a run down of what we had done. I don’t think many of the expect old farts to be doing what they see themselves doing!

The grounds of the house are large and have veg and fruit gardens and lots of space set aside for sitting around with several bonfire pits. There is an outside “fire bath”, the bath being an old cast iron one with a wood fire lit underneath. Not what I was expecting to do within a couple of days of arriving in cold NZ!

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There are lots of interesting workshops being done as well. Tonight’s activities was a brief on their Patagonia Earthship project, a Fat Cat eco built house devoted to communal living and helping the locals with renewable energy ideas and organic farming. Yoga and a variety of other spiritual stuff (more Gaia than Christian) figures daily.

Fat Cat was a great place to base ourselves from to explore Auckland. Auckland Museum had been recommended to us and on the basis that the girls really hadn’t done school for a while we decided a day of cultural education would stand all of us in good stead. The museum tells the story of Maori civilisation, has a large section on why living on the rim of fire (which Auckland does) is potentially not a good thing and covers the coming of the white settlers too. It has the NZ Cenotaph outside, a memorial wall inside for the Auckland fallen and an excellent run down of a “colonies” war effort in both WWI and II. We lucked out and were present for the presentation of awards from France to some old and bold for some joint activity a long time ago, listening to an excellent rendition of The Last Post.

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We were surprised at the number of Henderson names we saw on the Memorial wall. In the UK we would regularly expect to see the names of Davies, Jones and Macs being differentiated by the addition of their last two or three numbers. Here it was Hendersons.

We have decided that the van we have bought is just not going to work out as a sleep-in-van mode – it just isn’t big enough. Whilst we could copy the kids here and simply pack in, (there are four in a similar van but we think they are having “fun”) we have decided that sleeping in the van will be last resort and we will go back to what we know and live in a tent. The weather is mixed in New Zealand so I dare say we will have periods swearing at the rain and each other hiding in the van but hopefully, not too regularly.

We lucked out with the tent. Priced at $599, it was marked down as it was last years colours to $199 to clear. The lady at the till said the box looked a bit beat up (I’d already check the contents – mint) so gave us 50% off. We paid a grand total of $98 for it. Lou, ever the hunter of a bargain was beside herself! Warehouse, a big discount store was a goldmine. Cheap with with nearly everything we needed, we have visited several stores as well as a host of charity shops and outlet malls. The kids now look as if they fit in to the Fat Cat house lifestyle perfectly but we also have great boots for them to tramp around in whilst in country.

The one thing that has amazed us is the amount of Chinese and Asian people and businesses around the Henderson area. If there is a fish and chip shop, it is most likely to be part of a Chinese restaurant. A lot of businesses use both English and Chinese characters on their signs. Prices are very reasonable, not just against UK prices but European as well. Most items are shipped in from China and NZ is a lot closer than we are in the UK! The NZ Prime Minister is causing a little friction in the press as he has announced that NZ will be granting permanent visas for another 30000 Chinese this year.

The big news in New Zealand this first week has been the 7.8 earthquake in the S island and the damage it has done. Thankfully there have been only a couple of deaths but the damage to property has been extensive. There have been over a hundred aftershocks and what is most worrying is the scientists are predicting a 85% change of an even bigger ‘quake in the next 30days. We will be factoring this in to our travel plans as one of our options to be in South island for Xmas now looks a little suspect.

Auckland is a great town. Very much of the low rise and spread out variety, as a city it covers a huge area. Sized at about 1.5million, it also has about a third of the entire population of NZ living in it. It’s old docks are being developed with new housing and bijou bars and restaurants. I had a lovely time looking at a variety of racing yachts, from the extreme single handed Pogos through Open 50s to old America cup boats. There was a good selection of super yachts to dream about as well.

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We moved out of Fat Cats and moved up towards the N end of the city where there was a campsite called Remuera Lodge. It wasn’t that swish, had  lot of permanent campers but we got the chance to put the tent up for the first time and we met some good people. We didn’t get the chance to cook as Lou, eagle eyed as always, spotted an Indian restaurant, 300m from the front gate. One check of Trip Advisor later and I was informed that we would be eating out. Lou got her first decent curry since she left the UK!

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We took the chance to climb Mt Eden, the highest of 48 volcanoes that Auckland sits on! The views it gave over the city were wonderful. Note the number of other volcano heads present in the family snap with Auckland in the background! The big one in the bay appeared about 600 years ago. Bit scary knowing that many of these are classed as active. The museum has a great room and presentation showing what even a minor eruption would mean to Auckland. Wipe out……..

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We have now tested out the tent, staying in a campsite in the middle of Auckland and have come through unscathed although a little damp. We will be heading out to our first adventure, a stay with our workaway family, The Hobans.

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