Friday, October 22, 2010

Kerikeri, North Island, New Zealand

My friends and I arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ms Volendam on the morning of October 22, 2010. Over the next 16 days, we tour through the North Island in a rental car, staying in B&Bs in Kerikeri, Warkworth, Whangamata on the Coromandel Peninsula, Rotorua, and Te Kuiti (south of Hamilton). We left New Zealand aboard a Qantas flight on November 6, 2010.

Oct 22, 2010 – Friday – Auckland to Kerikeri, New Zealand – After my friends and I disembark from the Volendam for the last time this morning, we pick up our Hertz rental car from the downtown office and drive north on the motorway (freeway) heading across the bridge. We make a brief pit stop at the service centre just south of the new toll section of the motorway near Warkworth, where we pay the NZ$2.00 toll fee. There is no toll booth – it is a self-serve system where the toll can be paid either at a vending machine in the service centre, by using your cellphone, or through a website. Our next stop is to see the Frederick Hundertwasser designed public toilets in Kawakawa. Kerikeri is only about 20 minutes further down the road; however some of the roads had changed so the in-vehicle GPS we were using takes us down the wrong road. We end up at a dead end at the Old Stone Store, so have to find our way back into town and approach the Glenfalloch B&B by using a newly constructed diversion road. We finally find the place after asking for directions. By now it is 3pm, so we are glad to be done with our first day of driving on the left side of the road. Keith, who owns and runs the Glenfalloch B&B isn't home, but the front door is open so we make ourselves at home. He arrives just a few minutes after us, so we are soon settled into our rooms, and Keith makes us some coffee.

Jams, marmalades & fruit on breakfast table
Oct 23, 2010 – Saturday – Kerikeri, New Zealand – Keith makes us a wonderful breakfast of field mushrooms on toast with ham, fruit, cereal, homemade yogurt, and a vast selection of jams and marmalades, as well as more of his very good Bodum-style press coffee. I'm up first and have my first coffee in the kitchen while Keith prepares things, but my friends are soon up, so we move to the dining room for the main event.

Keith suggests a route for us to drive today, which goes north to Matauri Bay, and then to Whangaroa. Both locations are superb, and we enjoy ourselves. The beach at Matauri Bay is outstanding and not crowded. The Rainbow Warrior was sunk by the French while the ship was in Auckland, and the wreck is now sunk just offshore from Matauri Bay as a diving reef. We stop along the way and take some photos of spring lambs and sheep in a beautiful pasture, and then drive a bit further to the lovely bay at Whangaroa. We climb the hill up to the pretty Anglican Church on the hill behind the village to take some photos. We don`t travel the whole route which Keith suggested, but perhaps tomorrow we will complete the route.

Matauri Bay & Cavalli Islands from the ridge
Keith makes a reservation for us at the Pear Tree restaurant for dinner this evening. We walk down the hill the short distance to the restaurant, which is right across the street from the Stone Store. There is a new pedestrian bridge across the Kerikeri River, which replaces the old single lane vehicle bridge that used to be there, so the road on the other side now dead ends at the Old Stone Store (where we ended up yesterday). Our meals at the restaurant are very nice, but we find the charge of NZ$120 pretty high for three entrees, three beers, and one dessert.

Man and son walking Ninety Mile Beach
Oct 24, 2010 – Sunday – Kerikeri – Ahipara and Ninety Mile Beach, New Zealand – After having poached eggs and toast for breakfast, and doing a load of laundry, we drive north from Kerikeri. First stop is Mangonui; a very picturesque harbour town with fish boats on the dock, an old hotel, post office, and courthouse. Next stop is Cable Bay, which has a nice rough sand beach and some beautiful homes overlooking the bay. We then drive over to the Tasman Sea side of New Zealand and see the southerly part of the famous Ninety Mile Beach at the little community of Ahipara. This will have to do, since we subsequently decided the bus trip to the northern tip was going to be too much to take.
We then drive back south, taking a secondary road, which goes through Broadmead and re-joins Highway 1 at the Mangamuka Bridge. This section of road is paved, but very narrow, and seems to be an endless series of hills and curves. It is slow going until we are back on Highway 1 heading east. We then re-join Highway 10 north to Kerikeri. It is an interesting day, but we are tired by the time we get back to the B&B later in the afternoon after filling up the rental car with NZ$100 worth of gasoline. New Zealand gasoline prices are about 25% higher than we pay in Canada (CD$1.10 per litre as of Sept 2010).
We decide to have a steak dinner at the B&B this evening, so we go to the supermarket to purchase four New Zealand steaks, some ready-made salads, and some New Zealand wine. We prepare everything, and Keith volunteers to cook the steaks. The meal is pulled together in short order, and we all sit down and have the delicious meal. Keith pulls out some Taylor's Port - Rich Old Tawny 1981 to finish the meal with. The Rich Old Tawny was twenty years old in 1981, so it goes down nicely - a very fine port indeed!
Te Whare Runanga Meeting House
Oct 25, 2010 – Monday – Kerikeri – Waitangi, Pahia & Opua, New Zealand –Keith makes us crepes for breakfast, which are served with a berry compote and real Canadian maple syrup. We then take off late morning to see the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where we take about an hour and a half to walk through the grounds and see the displays. I visited this site in 2004…the only thing that has changed is the price – it is now NZ$25/person, whereas I paid NZ$10/person in 2004! The displays are very impressive: the huge Maori war canoe, the carvings decorating the Maori meeting house, the grounds and view, and of course the Treaty House itself.
Last stop is Opua, which brings back memories for me. I was here in 2004 while the Johnstons and I waited for favourable weather before sailing for Fiji in their 42`sailboat. I have an I was there photo taken at the same dock as sv Sequoia was docked so I can send a copy to Barbara and Craig. I expect they will get a kick out of it. They are currently waiting in Alameda, California for favourable weather to depart to the Sea of Cortez in Mexico for the winter.
After we return to the B&B, Keith prepares a wonderful fresh seafood stew for dinner, complete with French bread and an Australian white wine. A young German couple show up this afternoon. They are staying in the third bedroom, and join us for dinner.
Oct 26, 2010 – Tuesday – Kerikeri – Warkworth, New Zealand – We reluctantly leave our B&B in Kerikeri this morning, and drive down the highway to Warkworth.

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