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General New Zealand Tiki 2020

New Zealand Tiki Days 124 to 127 – Auckland to Karapiro

Cheese and Hobbits. That was our agenda today setting off southwards on the ultimate leg of our tiki adventure. We had just enjoyed three fabulous memorable days at Chateau Cambden in Royal Oak, Auckland, hosted there by owners and new friends Martin and Faye.

On Saturday we leapt at the chance to meet up with irrepressible and charismatic ex-Dudley colleague Peter Davis after not seeing him for 25 years. He introduced to his charming and lovely wife Jan. The six of us had a very pleasant lunch together at Massimos in Newmarket. It was fun to catch up with Peter and meet Jan and we didn’t play too many rounds of can your remember what the Dudley code was – promise.

Three Days in Auckland

After lunch Martin drove the 4 of us to Kumeu River vineyard to sample some excellent Chardonnays and then on to West Brook Winery for some more first class wine offerings in scenic surroundings. Faye rustled up a sublime risotto for us back at the Chateau and we had a happy evening chatting and quaffing and beating the intro.

Three Days in Auckland

On Sunday we went to Takapuna in the morning to drool over the scenery and the amazing properties hugging the North Auckland shore with the distinctive Rangitoto in the distance. We scrambled the fascinating rugged route round what was a fairly high tide until we couldn’t go any further. Retracing our steps in bright sunshine we had lunch in Burger Burger, where I had a… you guessed it.

Three Days in Auckland
Three Days in Auckland

After lunch Martin drove us down to the harbour and viaduct area where we wander around marvelling at luxury yachts moored outside millionaires’ apartments. It’s a vibrant, buzzy, boozy and boaty area. Peter and Jan live there and it must be fun to do so.

Three Days in Auckland
Three Days in Auckland

I got a touch of America’s Cup fever and had to be dragged away from the large screen replays. What a place this port part of the City of Sails will be next March when the cup is up for grabs again. You can already sense the atmosphere. Back to the Chateau and Faye and Martin rustled up a roast beef dinner between them that was so delicious and gave us a festive feeling of an early Christmas.

Three Days in Auckland
Three Days in Auckland
Mannekins making up for customers on Auckland’s waterfront

Monday morning dawned with Martin and I celebrating not having to go to work. He had sensibly suggested we get the expired registration document sorted for Jucy and that was easily done with a quick trip to the Post Office and we were legal again. He also suggested checking when the MOT (WoF) was due and luckily that only expired 25th August – just three days after we were due to drop Jucy off in Christchurch. Again we were lucky. All sorted, we then went shopping for winter clothing near the airport. This went well, uncovering some bin-end but quality special offer jackets and fleeces at both Icebreaker and Katmandu.

With the credit card steaming gently, one last purchase was required – something warmer to wear on my legs at Just Jeans. I took a pair of 34 waist/32 leg into the cubicle to try on and having heard voices asking “how are they looking?” I emerged to say to the expectant member of staff: “I’m afraid they don’t fit very well.”

“No, definitely not, I can see that,” she replied.

I pointed out to her that I now had my own trousers back on and not the ones I had been trying.

“On no, my bad!” she shrieked as we all fell about the place. We did teased her gently a little, which she took in good grace… She then earnestly looked through piles of trousers to find me a pair that would fit me better than my own, but was by now a little flustered. I suggested she was going to struggle to find me a pair measuring 33 in the 34 – 38 pile. She fanned her flushed face further.

Back to the Chateau later with size 33’s in the bag, we all thought the morning had been quite a success. And quite a laugh!

Our other new friend Laurie then picked us up and we had lunch together at Howick’s iconic Apothecary restaurant where we hd a really good catch up and chat, followed by a very interesting tour of the Howick Little Theatre where Laurie is directing his 21st play, Agatha Christie’s “Love from a Stranger”. 15 performances are to follow in a couple of weeks time. It’s a shame we won’t be around to see it, but we loved our insiders look at the theatre, staging, backstage rooms and the unique and irreplaceable collection of costumes and props. After asking a hundred questions, we also noted the heroes gallery of mini posters of previous stagings at the theatre going back a number of years, including Penny Walsh’s dramatic debut which we believe was in “A Flea in her Ear”. I won’t disclose what year that was, in case I get the same treatment as the unfortunate in the title…..:-)

Three Days in Auckland

After hosting us for the rest of the afternoon at his retirement home with tea and conversation, Laurie then kindly dropped us at Half Moon Bay for the ferry into Auckland. We were met wharf side by Martin and Faye who whisked us, shaken but not stirred, to the nearby Caretaker cocktail bar – a real hidden gem.

In speakeasy sofas we lurked cosily underground while we offered up our taste preferences for a fun hour or so and had those tastes interpreted and jiggered into liquid delights. We ubered slightly unsteadily back to Royal Oak where Faye’s exquisitely slow cooked leg of lamb fragrantly awaited us, which we thoroughly enjoyed along with copious quantities of fine wine during another excellent evening.

Three Days in Auckland

Reluctantly the following morning we loaded up Jucy and said au revoir to our generous hosts and started to head south with our silver Swift more laden than ever. Although at least she was now road legal.

After an hour of soon straight and straightforward driving through the central plains we chanced upon the Native Tree cafe for coffee.

The Kaimai Cheese Company stocked three cheeses of which we selected two, a brie and a gruyere, before deciding that Matamata itself wasn’t going to detain us for too long even for lunch. We headed instead for the nearby Shire Rest at the Hobbiton Movie Set Village where a small pie each sustained us for the tour to follow.

Three Days in Auckland

A couple of enchanting hours later we were finishing off our complimentary beer and cider at the Green Dragon (included in the $90 p.p fee) and made our way out of the shire and to our evening destination, the Above the River Bed and Breakfast, Karapiro, which we found after a short overshoot and a 1km long gravel road. Magic.

View from “Above the River”, Karapiro
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General New Zealand Tiki 2020 Ramblings

Sandboarding? Silly old me….

I thought you might enjoy reading about my latest late-midlife crisis, which started when I found an end of range boogie board for sale just after we arrived here in Feb. It was $7. So this essential purchase has been in our hire car, unwrapped, waiting for the suitable opportunity to use it which finally arrived at our visit to the giant Te Paki sand dunes just north of where we stayed at the wonderful Protea Park Farm Houhora, in the Northlands (top of the North Island). 

Sandboarding. 

It’s been a few years, (well actually 45), but it’s like riding a bicycle right?  

Wrong. 

I’ll let the pictures do the talking but suffice to say there is a fine line between hurtling downhill at 60km an hour on a piece of compressed plastic while having your face sandblasted back to a baby-like complexion, and lying prostrate on the same bit of plastic doing an impression of a giant turtle laying its eggs. And I never found the right side of the line. 

The dunes. Much higher and steeper than they look here. You can see the slope used by the brave.

Realising I should start on a more gentle incline, I found what I thought was a suitable nursery slope.

Heather was enthralled.

I launch myself (the slope is again much steeper than it looks, promise).

Oh dear. Maybe it’s the wrong type of sand.

Understandably disappointed with what she has seen, Heather goes back to the car (when she stops laughing).

I follow Heather back to the car, my sand boarding days clearly behind me. Oh well, at least I didn’t have to hire a board, which would have been $15 – so I saved $8 there… And with my buff covering my face, and my embarrassment, I preserved my neck. 

And if you know anyone who needs a lightly used boogie board which has had one just careful owner…..