Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Tuesday 5th July
Booked ourselves into the Hilton In Auckland as a special treat. It is lovely. Just as we were arriving the Lions tour bus drove up and all the lions got out!!! We faffed about so much in surprise that we only managed to get one picture. This is it!

Here's us at the game

We loved the rugby - we went to see The lions V Auckland - I know squat all about rugby - but the experience was cool!!!

Wednesday 6th July

Left Auckland this morning to head down to the Coromandel. (cannot recommend the Hilton highly enough – expensive, but worth it!)
It took about an hour and a half to reach the Coromandel Peninsula from Auckland.
The weather is the worst we’ve had so far, which is unfortunate as the Coromandel is stunning, but it was so rainy and windy that the views were a bit obscured.
We stopped in Thames first. It’s a small, lovely town with lots of craft shops. After that we drove round the coast to get to Coromandel Town. The views from the road are stunning all the way round the coast. The sea was bright green! There are forests of ferns. Its quite breathtaking

We had another stop at Coromandel town and had lovely hot chocolate in a cafĂ©. We’ve discovered that the cafes in New Zealand are brilliant! (so are the cakes and Lloyd really likes the pies!)

Coromandel town is also very nice. The people are so friendly, getting maps out to show us places to go or how to get anywhere or just having a chat.
After another drive across country to get to Whitianga we decided to stop for the day. We really couldn’t see too much through the rain.
We noticed on the drive to Whitianga that vast areas of the bush have been deforested, it looked devastated. There is a lot of replanting though.

We stayed at a motel in Whitianga – there are stacks of places to stay here also lots of cafes and wee restaurants.
We were knackered though, so just ordered pizza ! We asked the pizza man if we could get some juice delivered, he said that they didn’t have any but not to worry – he’d nip to a shop and get some for us and bring it over!!! Can you imagine Pizza Hut doing that!!!!

We’re heading back up north tomorrow – but have just watched the news and there is a tremendous amount of flooding there, so fingers crossed we get back ok.

Saturday 9th July
The drive north from the Coromandel was wet to say the least. There was flooding and wee land slips all over the place. The road over the coromandel from Whitianga back to Thames is possibly the most beautiful drive in the whole world – you drive through native bush like you wouldn’t believe. It is covered in palms and ferns – its so amazing. We didn’t even see it at it’s best because of all the rain and mist. It’s a place we will need to go back to again.

The drive back up to Kerikeri took about 7 hours – it would normally take less I reckon but the rain and flooding made it take longer – also we had to stop off at The Warehouse in Whangarei to buy some pants!!!!

the famous Warehouse!!

Reached kerikeri a little tired and met up with Richard and Vanessa the last of the dentists - who are lovely. I have to admit that coming back to Kerikeri felt like coming home for us. We have decided that this is where we want to be. Now we just have to find a house. Somewhere outside the town with a bit of land.

On Saturday we spent a lot of the day driving about the area and just sussing things out. In Kerikeri there is a brilliant organic butcher, a New World supermarket but best of all gazillions of fruit and veg places either on the roadside or up tracks. Its ace – and the fruit tastes all the sweeter. (Also a Warehouse and other big places outside kerikeri a bit ( kind of like a retail park) Kerikeri has a good few cafes and some excellent places to eat out and a small cinema. We have already found a lot of dog friendly places for dog walking – we had been a wee bit worried we would be short of this – but its not the case at all.
It all suits us so much!
The G's also came up for the weekend which was brilliant.

Gill and a giant tree on the beach

Today (Sunday) The G's and us headed to Paihia and Russell for the day. Paihia is very touristy and not really our cup of tea – although it is pretty. We took the passenger ferry over to Russell which was fun and spent the day wondering around there. It is a very nice wee place with lots of very expensive white houses right at the beach. Its quiet ( just now – in summer I think it will be Packed)

Lloyd, Gordon and Gill

the boat back from Russell to Pahia

Then we headed back to kerikeri to where we’re staying just now – it’s a little house thing with a verandah and decks all round – very nice!
Its dark by about 5.30, and the stars are AMAZING – there is no light pollution up here – and I have never seen skies like it.
Everyone else is playing scrabble just now – and this is a good place to be.

Monday 11th July/Tuesday 12th

Wow such a lot has happened in the last few days – most importantly Lloyd has accepted a job up here in Kerikeri – very exciting. It's with Richard and Vanessa, who have been absolutely amazing, to the extent of letting us stay with them literally days after opening a new surgery and moving house!
We have also managed to sort out a rental for when we come back in September (ta Vanessa) – right on the beach!!! Jammy sods we are. It’s blooming brilliant and they have no worries about bobthedog. A huge relief. And its also a dog friendly beach – it really couldn’t be better. We’ve only got it till Mid December so hopefully we will have something else sorted by then. (this is all going on the assumption our flat sells)
Wehave looked at a few houses – but haven’t seen one so far that ticks all our boxes - one was SO close – but I’m kind of relieved it wasn’t right cos we aren’t in a position to do anything just now until our own one sells

Yesterday we took a trip up to the kauri forest at Puketi this is a must if anyone ever gets up here! It is simply stunning and beautiful. We were hugging all the trees!!! (blooming hippies!) Then we went for more driving round the coast and more exploring inland.

Kauri trees

Today we opened our bank account. It was SO easy! We made an appointment, had to take 2 forms of identification and some money!
We filled in the form and the lady at the bank checked our id, set up our new account, sat with us while we called the 0800 number to get our password for internet banking and made sure that this all worked (in the UK Lloyd has never managed to get his internet banking working and this is after several phone calls and emails and letters!)
She then gave us our bank cards! And we got to set up our pin numbers there and then. All in all it took less than an hour ! Well impressed.
We also went to see more houses!!! Fell in love with an 8 hectare farm with an old kauri villa on it!! Good grief!! I’ll be breeding cattle before you can say “welcome to New Zealand!”

Our new Home??

On the way back from kaitaia (which we also liked) we went to the chip shop at Manganoui – we had possibly the freshest most lovely fish I have ever had!!! Its famous round these here parts, you know.

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