|View from the top looking over the crater of the volcano, across the CBD, to Waitemata Harbour and North Shore beyond|
|All of us at the top of Mount Eden|
|What a great picture of the 5 of them on the black sand beach at Whatipu.|
From here we’re off to Waiwera for the thermal pools experience. It’s quite a long way north-east on the opposite coast, I switch cars, and we all stop for a birthday tea for Rachel on the way up. Unfortunately the SatNav is wrongly set in the other car (some dispute as to how it’s happened but I won’t discuss that here) and it results in Kate, Craig and Bill heading way up north on the Highway 1, while we wait for them at Waiwera. A long soak in the hot thermal waters helps to relax us all, but by then it’s dark and we’re all in a rush to get back to Auckland for dinner at Satya. People do seem to eat early here and we’re concerned our favourite South Indian restaurant may be closed. We make it just in time, enjoy our dinner then have a quick drink in Galbraith’s on the way home.
|I don't think Max is taking the yoga too seriously|
Wednesday 9 May
Getting up and ready to fly to Queenstown, South Island, this morning, 12.30 flight. The weather’s not looking too good down there and it’s certainly a lot colder than Auckland. Hire 2 cars and find our way to Heritage Heights where we’ve booked 2 apartments for 3 nights. They turn out to be large 3-bedroomed houses which have adjoining doors at dining room level. Brilliant for us all as the kids take over one house and we’re next door (with 2 empty bedrooms). The houses are 10 mins away from the centre of Queenstown up a steep hillside with terrific views out across the lake to the Remarkables range of mountains. We’re now deep into Autumn and the leaves changing colour make a fabulous show; yellows, golds and reds. Everyone’s dead chuffed with the accommodation. We walk into town, and wander round while the kids go to the i-site to book various scary adventure activities. They decide to cook dinner for us all tonight, sounds good to me! Craig does a great big spaghetti Bolognese for us all and we play cards later on.
|Looking very stylish in my jet-boating gear|
|Bill and Kate on their way up the mountain, before luging back down again to Queenstown below|
Back to a warm cafe in Queenstown and we buy some lunch for a walk later on. Turns out the kids trips were cancelled because there’s too much wind so they go luging. This involves a chair lift to the top of the hill, then a slide down a windy path on something a bit like a sled from what I can make out. Katy and Bill go for a walk with us in the afternoon, doing a circuit round Lake Moke. Lovely Autumnal sunshine on peaceful hilly countryside.
|Katy, Bill, and Mike at the edge of Lake Moke, before our circular walk|
In the evening we go to Fergie Burghers which has been recommended by various people. The burghers are fine but I make a bit of a mess of myself eating it as no plate or cutlery is provided. Not that I made a big fuss or anything . . . Play pool afterwards.
|View from our house looking out over Queenstown|
|Climbing up through the Autumnal colours|
|In my red jacket clashing with the leaves|
|Giving Bill a piggy back on the shores of the Arrow River in Arrowtown|
We stop for tea and take a look around the little museum then drive to a butchers to buy some of their excellent beef as I’m cooking dinner tonight. The others have been successful with the sky-diving and horse-riding so all is well.
|Max and Rachel in their sky-diving get-up|
Saturday 12 May
Quite an early start as the flight home is 9.30, we lunch at home then some go off to Auckland Museum to see the Maori artefacts and experience the volcano section which is really good. This evening we’re going to the Pakuranga Night Market. Mike and I have been once before and loved it, though we got seriously lost when our SatNav packed in on the way home. Both cars get there safely and together we enter the underground car park that’s magically converted into a Night Market every Saturday.
|Billy with his barbequed sqid beard|
|Rachel, Max, and Kate eating dinner at the Pakuranga Night Market|