Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Holidays Week 1

Katy, Max & Bill, along with partners, Craig and Rachel, are over to stay with us for two weeks. We’ve been looking forward to their visit for months now and have compiled a long list of possible outings and things to do from Auckland, as well as booking flights and accommodation for a Queenstown trip and two places to stay on a road trip up north to Hokianga Harbour and the Bay of Islands.

It was terrific to see them all again and great to get to know Craig and Rachel a bit better. Of course it wasn’t always easy getting 7 people out of the house, let alone agreeing on where to go and what to do, and we often split up into 2 or 3 groups, but overall it went really well, with loads of laughter and only a few tears. The house seems very quiet and empty now they’ve gone and we’re feeling just a little dejected. We’d spent so long looking forward to their arrival, and now it’s all over, but we’re hoping to welcome Anne and Andy in the very near future so are now focussing on that. Just hope Mike’s got some holiday left!

Sunday 6 May
They’re just about the last people to come through into the arrivals lounge, due to someone’s boots having to be steam-cleaned I think ( they’re very fussy about dirty boots in immigration over here). So good to see them after all this time, and they all seem to have survived the long flight OK. First thing to do is pick up a hire car so we can all get around Auckland, then the short drive back to our flat to dump stuff and we’re off over the Domain for coffee and cake. It’s a bright sunny morning which encourages the holiday atmosphere and everyone’s happy.

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

Our landlord and lady have kindly given us the use of the flat below their Mt Eden house so after lunch we do the trip to Mt Eden so Kate and Craig can move their stuff into the flat, then we walk up to the top of the volcano so everyone can take in the fantastic view over the city. The plan is to keep everyone awake to head off the jet lag. Max and Rachel will be sleeping on a mattress in the front room and Bill makes up his bed every night in the sitting room. It all works pretty well but would have been a real squeeze if we didn’t have use of the flat. Out into Newmarket for a terrific Malaysian dinner at Selera.

Monday 7 May
As the weather’s not looking too bad we decide to do a beach trip to Whatipu which is at the mouth of Maunukau harbour. From now on when we’re out in 2 cars we make sure that there’s a working phone in each, and as Whatipu is quite a distance away and not clearly located on the SatNav, I go in with Craig and Katy just in case. The last stretch is fun as we have to drive through a ford and end up on gravel roads. After parking we walk up the top of the headland looking over the harbour, then out onto the black sand beach. It’s a strangely calm day, very different to our last trip here, and we enjoy our walk on the beach and a picnic lunch in the sun, pukekoes squabbling in the background.

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.

Tuesday 8 May
We agree to meet up in Mt Fuji for a sushi lunch, and the owner (who knows Mike as a regular) makes a big fuss of us all. It’s a rainy day today and Katy and I are off to the Glenn Innes Op Shops while the rest walk over the Domain to visit Auckland Art Gallery. Kate leads us in a yoga session in the sitting room and we have a fish & chip supper with battered oysters as an extra. The kids go out on the K Road in the evening and find a bar with live music below St Kevin’s Arcade.

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

Thursday 10 May
Mike and I go off to do the jet-boating thing at 10am, while the kids go off for para-gliding, sky-diving etc. Weather’s much colder down here but pretty bright. It’s freezing on the jet-boat but good fun. How those guys manage to drive so close to the rocks without hitting them I can’t imagine, but it’s best not to think about it while you’re flying along at God knows what speed. We’re taken east  across Lake Wakatipu, then up the Kawarau River, and further on along the Shotover River which is gold-rich and still has people panning in it. It’s a beautiful braided river, quite shallow in parts and we can hear the boat scraping along the bottom in places.

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

Friday 11 May
Some are off to try again at horse riding and dangerous sports, while Bill, Craig, Mike and I plan our walk. It’s between climbing the summit of Ben Lomond (there’s another one here just behind Queenstown, not the Scottish one) or doing a circular walk from Arrowtown (my preference of course). After a lot of discussion we go for the latter, the main reason being that the weather’s not looking too great. A lovely drive up into the mountains behind Queenstown and along a valley till we get to the quaint old gold rush town of Arrowtown. It’s now rather an up-market tourist attraction with some expensive shops where we stop for coffee, as we find ourselves doing everyday before taking on any activity. Then we set off across the Arrow River and up along a gorge, following a pipeline to start with, and rising up along the valley with the river rushing below us. We see a family way down below panning for gold. The trees are mostly deciduous with leaves turning yellow, orange, red and gold. As we climb we go through areas of native evergreen beech forest. We then turn a sharp left up climbing up into Sawpit Gully following and criss-crossing a stream as we go, climbing all the way.

Climbing up through the Autumnal colours
We eventually come out above the tree line onto hillsides of golden tussock grass, stopping at an old tumble down miner’s cottage on the way. Shortly afterwards we begin to climb a hill and stop for lunch at the top. There’s a great view from here down to Lake Hayes and up to the mountains surrounding us. From here we descend quite steeply through beautiful Autumn woodland to Arrowtown below.

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
It’s a wonderful place, packed full of people of all different nationalities, all wandering round buying and eating food from a multitude of food stalls. There must be at least 50 stalls cooking and selling food from many different countries: Chinese, Japanese, Thai, South American, Indian, South Indian vegetarian, Maori Hangi, Italian deserts, Spanish churros, Hungarian chimney cakes (whatever they are) and many more. The competition is high so prices are good, and we all buy different things and share with eachother, taking advantage of the chairs and tables set up in the middle of the aisle if we can squeeze in. I’m keen on the Japanese crab balls, the skewered quails eggs, and the avocado lassi (just divine).

Food stalls cover about two thirds of the area and the rest has more ordinary market stalls selling clothes, jewellery, fruit, and tourist stuff. After eating our fill we drive back home and the gang go out for their Saturday night in Auckland, down the ‘K’ Road again.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sue

    Looks like a great time has been had by all! Must have been fantastic having the family over and am sure when they return home you soon fill the time with things and before know it be October and time for your own flights back home. Loving the autumnal colours and always think it is a pretty time of the year, even over here! As always love reading your updates and seeing the pics.

    Dave, Julie & Stu xxx