Rather belatedly some blog entries relating to my recent trip to New Zealand with Rita.
On Fri 14 November after the traditional last minute panics, I managed to get out of the office and to the Airport Express at 2pm. We’d checked in at the station that morning to save time. We flew out at 4pm on Singapore Airlines, arriving in Singapore at 7:40. The next leg was a 9pm flight to Auckland. I don’t recall flying Singapore Airlines before, but I’d certainly recommend them. I can’t speak about their value as I used some Star Alliance air miles that I accumulated years ago when I was travelling a bit working for Citibank. The service was great and the air crew were helpful and friendly. I had planned to sleep on the way down so as to be fresh enough to drive when I got to Auckland, but the on board entertainment system and free drinks soon put paid to that idea. So I arrived bleary-eyed in Auckland at 11:50am local time.
We hired a car at the airport from Omega Rental Cars. Our destination was Tutukaka, which is the jumping off point for the Poor Knights, which Cousteau rated as one of the top ten dive sites in the world. Pausing only to take a digital photo of the car (specifically the number plate so I’d be able to remember which one it was), we headed north. We decided to take the pretty route, up the north-west coast before cutting inland and across to the east coast near Whangarei. The weather was great and the scenery better. The countryside around Whangarei looks a lot like Derbyshire where my family is from. Similar hills, green farmland and, bizzarely, dry stone walls. The main difference was that the stone cottages were replaced by wooden houses, but apart from that it all seemed very familiar.
We stopped at the 26 metre high Whangarei falls, and finally arrived at Tutukaka at around 7:30pm. We went posh for the first night by renting a cabin with an en-suite bathroom for NZD 75 at the Tutukaka Holiday Park. Tutukaka is a lovely little, picturesque place with one main street alongside a harbour packed with boats. We had dinner was at the Schnappa Rock, a pub along the waterfront, and right next to Dive! Tutukaka, who we would be diving with on the following day. I chose them because fellow SCDC member Andy Niven dived with them during his visit.
It was a beautiful Spring evening and a good start to the trip.