4.5.17 Homeward bound

Warning! The following article was written with SEVERE jetlag. All grammar errors, words and opinions are not ours.

Walk, Ferry, Shuttle Bus, Airport bus. 

Hour queue for check in. 

Enjoy 5 movies, two meals, one snack box and one unidentified vegetarian warm food item on 17 hour flight leaving Auckland at 15.30 to Doha. Arrive into Doha at midnight (on the same day?!?) and hang out at the sixth airport to be awarded five stars.

At 2am Doha time we eat a burger in a food court as we are both starving (Stomach’s revenge for red wine overload?). I think I see a giant teddy bear but my mind is sleep deprived and confused. 

I think I meet George Cloony but my mind is sleep deprived and confused. 

Turns out we use the same hair products.

At 4.30am we check in for our 7 hour flight to sunny Blighty. We consume 3 movies, one meal and a veggie pasty thing.

At 11am we land on the damp rock in the north east Atlantic that is home. I think this means it has taken thirty and a half hours to get from Auckland to London but my brain is tired.

We embrace the balmy English weather

Al wins carousel rucksack roulette taking the final trip score to Al 4-2 Guy. She wins the casting vote in our flat hunt.

Alison’s wonderful parents and our new landlords meet us at the airport.

Bus, Bus, Train, Car and within five hours of being in the country we are in Waitrose perusing the Kiwi wine selection. 

We have swollen ankles.

For those of you who have been writing in, demanding to know Al’s fitbit totals for the whole eight months, here are the final scores on the doors:

3,570,330 steps

1,514.81 miles walked (which is equivalent to walking from London to Ivalo, in the north of Finland)

646,995 calories burnt (mostly replaced by dumplings)

1,791 hours slept

Thankfully Fitbit don’t record alcohol units consumed.

We go to bed at 7pm in full daylight.

Wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home.

THANKS FOR READING!

1.5.17 Hastings to Waiheke Island

Today we make our penultimate journey of this trip, it will be a mixed bag of transport, taxi, teeny plane, bus, ferry, bus. 

We have booked an internal flight with Air New Zealand as it was cheaper than the bus and it saved us an overnight in Auckland.

Propeller driven plane….gulp….

So, on our last Monday away, as everyone at home was having a bank holiday lie in we were up early. We packed and left our glamping tent, which had been battered by wind and rain the night before, and got on our way to the small but beautiful Napier airport. 

View from Hawkes Bay airport

We checked in our bags, as they had bottles of wine carefully packed throughout we asked that they have the fragile tags put on. They were duly tagged.

Look at the fragile label, this means do not throw it around the plane

Breakfast was pastry based with Hawthorne coffee to wash it down. We watched as the baggage handlers threw our bags into the baggage hold on our plane. Fragile tags duly ignored.

Gourmet sausage roll

The wind had really picked up so it was with trepidation that we boarded the small, propeller driven plane. It was bumpy on the way up but once up it was a breeze.

55 mins later we are in Auckland and on our way into town for the ferry to the beautiful island of Waiheke, where we had booked a bit of luxury for our last 3 nights of the trip. 

Auckland CBD from Waiheke ferry

The 35 min ferry journey was stunning, many photos were taken.

Landing on the tiny island we got a bus the 2km into Oneroa, luxury, and got into our Air BnB to see what we have for the last time. Washing machine and dryer are the essentials as I don’t want to go back to Mum and Dad’s with a bag full of washing. Mum never did my washing when I was a student so I doubt it will be gratefully received on Friday!!! 

Our place has views front and back to the seaside. How ace?

Harbour in Waiheke 

We got some fancy items from the posh Island Grocer and essentials from Four Square and went back to the flat to do washing and cook up some lamb merguez sausages for a late lunch.

Guy cooked a stunning evening meal of lamb meatballs, couscous and adds green leaves for health. 

It was accompanied by 2 very fine Pinot Noirs for which we were grateful to be drinking due to Guy’s diligent packing and not the Air NZ baggage handlers. We watch The Bachelor and MKR. 

Pinot Noir taste test

14.4.2017 16th Wedding anniversary….. Auckland to Wellington

We had packed and vacated the room early as a jet lagged English couple had landed after an overnight flight from Japan so needed the room more than us!!

We have really enjoyed staying at Mt Eden and Richard’s house, and today when we went for coffee and the sprightly Italian owner said ‘the usual’ we were dead chuffed. Coffee was swigged along with a small shot of amaretto as a ‘happy anniversary’ present from my wonderful husband. 

Amaretto, the slightly more obscure 16th anniversary gift

We sauntered up and down Mt Eden one​ last time. As it was Good Friday there were many more people that the previous few days and Cyclone Cook was a distant memory, the views were fab.

Just to prove I did make it to the top

We finished all our food off in one massive brunch style dish and decided we didn’t need to eat ever again after that.

We had picked up a horned melon from the local fruit and veg shop, $3.99 each, and all of us who tried the fruit agreed it was a one off experience, not to be repeated. Fresh, green tasting with lots of seeds, not sure you would sprinkle it on a pork chop….

Spikey little fruit
Green pips inside…..from the cucumber family

Our final overnight bus journey of the trip is tonight, so we have another day of killing time. We dropped bags off at Britomart station and wandered down Auckland downtown with the intention of having a leisurely pint or glass of vino to celebrate 16 wonderful years of marriage. However we had not taken into account the stringent public holiday drinking laws here. Unless we had a full main course meal each then we cannot be served any wine. Wow! What do you do on a bank holiday weekend if it isn’t meeting your mates in the pub for a sesh? 

We couldn’t face any more food so wandered, chatted, wandered some more.

The overnight journey was quick, with food stops at 11.30pm and 3am. People got off and ate on the 3am stop!!! 

13.4.2017 Auckland and Cyclone Cook

Everyone was being warned about an incoming Cyclone, named Cook. Businesses were shutting early, although as it coincided with the Easter break this could have been an excuse to get off early??

As the rain had been pretty appocolyptic the last couple of days we were dreading more rain and more wind. Still, the weather was ok in the morning for the ritual of caffeine and volcano walking. 

Caffeine was courtesy of a new cafe over the road, run by a friendly Italian. The coffee was strong and got us up and down Mt Eden at a fast pace.

We got back home, did some chores and sat around, waiting. The sun came out. Guy decided that his jeans didn’t fit, so we had to take them back. This attracted howls of derision from myself, along with taunts of ‘maybe you should have tried more jeans on!’.

Train ride later and we were in Newmarket and Guy was buying Birkonstocks, can you tell we are on our way home??? Jeans changed and we got a bus to Mt Eden and had a Japanese meal at Coen, with a free miso soup as they were closing for the Easter weekend. 

We were out of wine, and if a cyclone was forcasted we needed wine to see us through. Sensibly we bought just one bottle, yep, One, 1. 

Walk home in fine drizzle and we sat around the house, blogging, writing diary and chatting to Michelle, our house mate, who was also catching up on her diary.

Frustrated with technology, I suggested a glass of wine at 5pm.


Our host Richard came home from work at 5.30. Cyclone Cook never appeared.

We ran out of wine at 6pm, why did we only buy one bottle? Guy and Michelle got more wine and we chatted through the evening and had sausage butties for tea. 

We got a great Air BnB review from Richard!!!

12.4.2017 Rainy Auckland

With the time difference between here and home we are getting used to catching up with family and (usually alcohol happy) friends early in the morning. It is an entertaining start to the day whilst lazing around. We are now used to our phones not pinging, bleeping, ringing throughout the day which will no doubt change when we get home. I do like it this way though 😁

Rain, and lots of it, was forecast for today, so we decide that as we have experience of inclement weather in the UK and that sheltering in a pub is the best way to deal with this, we plan to stick to what we know.

Kiwi adverts….. LOL

Before that can happen we need to do the caffeined run up and down the extinct volcano, less views than before, same amount of Chinese tourists. 

Atmospheric views

Washing, food shopping and book buying later and we were looking out on our normally sunny patio wondering what on earth had happened to the weather. I know they said rain, but this was Asian appocolyptic rain. 

Rain on the patio. Serious rain

When it slacked off we walked to Brothers Brewery​, drank beer, wrote blogs and diaries and ate some flipping amazing food. 

Demonstrating use of umbrella outside the brewery

The brisket of beef and the pastrami were amazing. The sides of beans and cabbage will no doubt make a reappearance later in the form of noxious gases. 

Note​ to self: must remember to leave a window open tonight.

A short walk to Galbraith’s and we sampled award winning beer and carried on with blogging and diary writing. Tough day eh?

An English (kiwi) award winning bar

11.4.2017 Auckland Domain and Dumplings

So the healthy caffeinated run up and down an extinct volcano exercise routine is in full swing. We did it again and see yet more Chinese tourists checking out the views.

Rangitoto volcanic island

We walk over to the Domain, a huge expanse of green grass in the centre of Auckland, it also has a hothouse and fernery. Ace. 

Check out these roots….

Over the otherside of the Domain is Newmarket, which we head to as we are starving and spot a few Taiwanese, Japanese, Chinese and dumpling restaurants. Dumplings win, along with a glass of kiwi white wine each. 

Seafood, beef and carrot, pork and shrimp, shrimp types of dumplings

A spot of jeans shopping later and we were sorted. Guy tried on 3 pairs, I tried on slightly more.

Piles of disgarded jeans

I threw together a tuna nicoise salad back at home.

Check out those soft poached eggs

 and we did a double header on the movies and wine. Mad Max Fury Road, followed by The secret life of Walter Mitty. 

Wines tasted:

Coopers Creek Chardonnay

Lawson Dry Hills Gerwurtztraminer Marlborough

Wycroft Pinot Noir 2014 Wairarapa

Kahurangi Estate Pinot Noir 2015 Nelson

10.4.2017 Auckland

We are determined to get home being able to fit into our clothes in storage so are embarking on an exercise regime which involves getting caffeined up to the eyeballs then running up and down an extinct volcano every day, we will write a self help book about it when we get home and make a fortune.

The massive volcano that is Mt Eden

Day One and we did an 11 min walk to Rad for Guy to have their famous flat white. I stuck with a reliable long black (as opposed to a short black which is an espresso). Guy liked the flat white as it was less milky and more coffee than the usual frothy, milky coffee concoctions.

Wow, what a cool flat white

We had a light jog up aforementioned volcano and were greeted with even more Chinese tourists than yesterday. 

Guy looking relaxed after jogging up Mount

Back down the volcano and Guy cooked up a hearty breakfast of huevos rancheros which we demolished in seconds.

We had a wander down Dominion Road nearby and checked out the Chinese quarter, it was too early for dumplings so we carried onto Mt Eden shops which are varied and include an allotment, the likes of which I have never seen before. 

How beautiful is this???

We then carried on past a small kids playground with a bucket contraption in it. Like Aquarama in Bennicassim, if anyone has been there.

Memories of Spain

Back in Mt Eden and we chance upon an independent wine shop. What are the chances of that?  We chatted to the chap in the shop for sometime, purchased 2 bottles of wine and went home to plan and book much of the remaining time we have left accompanied by a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

Dinner was leftovers salad.

We watched Hateful Eight on our 42″ TV in our room and drank Pinot Noir.

Wines tasted:

Waiheke Island Sauvignon Blanc Man O’ War 2015

Marlborough Pinot Nior Giesen 2015