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We have had pretty good weather for the past seven weeks whilst we have been touring around New Zealand, and Auckland was to make no exception. 

We stayed in the trendy suburb of Newmarket, so we were only one (seven minute) train stop into the CBD at a cost of $1.90 (about  £1), making getting around pretty easy and cheap.  We returned our rental car as soon as we arrived in the city, due to parking fees being pretty high, as they are in most big cities in the world.

Devonport is a short, scenic ferry ride across from the city centre, so we lost no time re-exploring this delightful village.  Not only are there many cafés and restaurants but also a number of unique shops I love to return to time and again.  I’ve spoken of my love of fountain pens, journals and notebooks in previous posts, so I was delighted to discover Fitzgerald Taylor a boutique stationer, hidden away inside the old Post Office building on the main street.  The owner, Kim Snowball (excellent name, huh?) was great fun, very friendly and remembered us from a previous visit.  It was also a pleasure to spend time in Wild and Woolly Yarns, which reminded me of the shop that featured in the Friday Night Knitting Club, a book I read last year.     

We enjoyed the biggest portions of fresh fish and chips we have ever had the pleasure to eat, and strolled along the waterfront past the many period houses to the Navy Museum in Torpedo Bay, taking in the sunshine and watching the many boats around the Harbour, including the Voyager of the Seas as she departed for her next destination – wherever that may be.

It was lovely to return to Mission Bay, with its great views across to Rangitoto Island, where we spent Christmas Day three years ago.

Mount Eden, a domant volcanic cone was just as special to revisit, with great views across the city and into the majestic bowl-like crater, over fifty metres deep.   Of course, from here it’s only a hop, skip and a jump to Eden Park, home of the Mighty All Blacks!

Who would have thought that just a short drive out of Auckland’s hectic city centre, you’d find yourself in the middle of a rainforest?   Just 24 kilometres away lies the Waitakere Ranges, a 28 square kilometre sanctuary of native rainforest, beaches and stunning wild coastline, formed over millions of years of volcanic eruptions. The west coast beaches of Auckland, with their distinctive, magnetic black sand were a new experience for us on this trip – well, it’s always good to find new places to visit, isn’t it?

I figure we have seen as much of New Zealand as many Kiwis, and more than most!

Remember our dear friend, Christine, in Sydney?  Well, she was keen for us to meet up with an old school-friend of hers, and her husband, who live in Auckland.  Fortunately Alison and Richard had some free time, so we were able to meet up with them and share a delightful afternoon drinking coffee and wine and chatting away as if we had known each other all our lives.  A day or two later, Alison also kindly offered to take us to the airport for our onward flight to Australia, which saved us lugging our suitcases on the Airport Express bus.  On the way she drove us to Titirangi for a delicious lunch at her brother’s café, The Hardware Cafe, where we feasted on crab and smoked salmon pasta with chilli oil and were introduced to the rest of the family.  Lovely people.

The more we travel, the more we are reminded how most people throughout the world are genuine, decent people who are more than willing to share their time and get along with others, which makes a change from much of the bad news portrayed on TV these days.   We sincerely hope that Alison and Richard will come to stay with us in Andalucía when they visit Europe soon – because, after all, you can’t buy time, can you, Richard? 

In fact, here’s a plan – I wonder if I can get Alison, Richard AND Christine all over to Spain at the same time?

Before we leave Auckland, I must show you The Earth Sandwich Tool – go on, have a look at it – you know you want to.  If the Earth were a sandwich, because Auckland is diametrically opposite on the globe to where we live in southern Spain, then that’s where the other piece of bread would be!  Get it?  Where on earth is opposite to where YOU live?