Devenport via Art. After our first night in downtown Auckland, we had a mondo breakfast / latte because we could, and because we had withdrawal after three weeks away from such places. We stopped in at the Auckland Art Museum where we discovered The Obliteration Room where every museum-goer is given a sheet of sticky dots to stick on anything they like in an all white room. (Victoria may have taken the meaning of art too far as she chose to stick the outline sheet for her dots on the wall, rather than the dots themselves....)
Sky City dominates the skyline and it almost seems like wherever you are, you look up and you see it. Clearly we needed to go there and celebrate birthdays again (any excuse to go to Orbit 360).
The imposing Museum contained much of interest but we were completely drawn in by the amazing New Zealand Geographic Photograher of the Year, 2017 exhibition. The images taken by a mix of pros and amateurs were profound in their own right but also gave insights into some of the sights / places that this beautiful country has to offer and of which we’ll hopefully be seeing first hand over the next four weeks. Check it out here: https://www.nzgeo.com/photography/photographer-of-the-year-2017
It was great to catch up with Tim and Suzy who kindly had us over for dinner at their amazing house. So many incredible travel tips for places to visit and things to try including Icebreaker clothing (addicted), pineapple lumps (addicted), Whittaker’s chocolate (addicted - hate to say it; better than Cadbury’s). Thx guys so much!!
We should probably have checked the weather forecast before we booked a wine tasting tour of Waiheke Island. Our ferry hit the tail end of Tropical Storm Fehi making it rather memorable for all the wrong reasons, and the “scenic coach transfers to each vineyard” were rather dampened when the torrential rain found a way into the air con and started dripping through the air vents!
It’s time to start the road trip so.. need to grab a car. One last “diaga” crossing (I wish you could do this across the 40th / 156th intersection in Redmond) and we got to pick up our Holden Cruz. With 47,000km on the clock this thing is pretty beaten up and has backwards wipes / turn signal controls. Right hand drive, no problem. Backwards turn signals, really, what were you thinking? And who the hell is Holden!?
From our base on the dairy farm, we got to go check out the Kiwi House at Otorohanga. We arrived for the feeding of the kiwis but being noctournal and light-sensitive, we have no pics. I can share that the great spotted kiwi was surprisingly energetic, rushing about digging for food amongst the leaves - and wasn’t exactly light on his feet! We can understand why New Zealanders adopted the bird as their national emblem and monika, as they’re very endearing, with coarse feathers more like fur and are “honorary mammals”.
To Kiwis (the people, not the bird), suspension bridges are known as Swing bridges, and we visited a very nice example at Arapuni. The surrounding countryside was also beautiful: green, unspoilt rolling hills with cows and sheep dotted about.
We’d read a lot about glow worms in New Zealand. To be zoologically correct, these are larvae of the fungus gnat, and they glow at night to attract insects which they reel in on webs. We didn’t opt for the glow-worm cave option, but signed up for a guided kayak trip involving paddling up the Pokaiwhenua Stream at dusk, waiting for it to get dark then drifting back downstream to admire the larvae on the walls of the canyon. Luckily we hadn’t really thought this through as drifting anywhere in a kayak in the pitch black trying to avoid submerged tree trunks, the walls of the canyon, supply barges and your fellow kayakers is a bit nerve wracking. However, the combination of the adrenaline from all of that along with the amazing lights on the walls from the glow worms and the stars in the sky above was truly magical.