The story continues albeit a long while after the fact.
When you come from a large family there are always obligations to visit and keep contact but the benefits are you always have a place to stay and food on the table. Having left Christchurch in the South Island, I made for the metropolis of Auckland to visit family and friends in the upper half of the North Island.
During a short stay in Auckland I manage to squeeze in 2 of my nephews, their families & pets over a couple of days. While there we managed to terrorise the central city with a visit to the downtown areas of a roof top gin bar and the viaduct. The downtown area has become totally tourism dominated and as a kiwi one can feel slightly out of place. A visit to “The Churchill” a lovely gin palace atop the Sheraton Hotel on Queen Street soon fixed that. A place where you can create your our combinations of gin, mixers and botanicals to delight your taste-buds. Mine for the evening was a lovely Ophir Spiced Gin with East Imperial Yuzu Tonic and Orange & Ginger botanicals. As the eminent Sir Winston Churchill one said, “The gin and tonic has saved more Englishmen’s lives and minds than all the doctors in the Empire” 🙂 Not usually one for hip trends but I could get used to this one quickly.
Next stop the viaduct for dinner at Dr Rudi’s Rooftop Brewing Company to sample some of the in house brewed bevvies (NB! notice the proclivity for rood tops tonight). The viaduct was once a run down commercial harbour area on the Auckland waterfront that has been turned into a development of upscale apartments, office space and restaurants. The precinct enjoyed considerable popularity with locals and foreign visitors during the 2000, 2003 & 2021 America’s Cup hosted by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. The time we chose to visit the viaduct it was hosting a week long Pride event. Lots of beer tasting and some great food.
All to quickly my few days in Auckland and it was time to head south to friends in Hamilton. After dropping my nephew at Auckland airport I hit the motorway south past Pukekohe and over the Bombay Hills. They often say the Bombay Hills divide New Zealand and not Cook Strait. 🙂 It was not hard driving south to see that this region was suffering from a drought which was in stark contrast to how I began my trip down under with major flooding in the deep south. Auckland city with its 1 million plus inhabitants was running out of fresh water due to the drought. I suppose something we will see more of in the future with weather extremes due to climate change. The weather would continue to treat me to glorious sunshine with temperatures hanging around 30 everyday. Other than catching up with Greg & SJ, I would continue my exploration of regions of New Zealand I had not visited earlier. On my last visit to the Waikato area I visited Hobbiton and the geothermal region of Rotorua. This time I had thought of visiting the Coromandel peninsula but that would require overnighting and I wanted to visit with my friends. So slight revision of plans and visits to Raglan, Paeroa & the Bay of Plenty would allow me me to explore and visit with my friends. There is a twist to the plot regarding my friendship with Greg in that we studied together for many years before finding out we shared a common ancestor – Johan Fredrik Ericsson mentioned in the previous post.
One of the day trips that was planned was to the coastal Waikato town of Raglan west of Hamilton. Raglan is a surfing mecca and characterised by dramatically scenic areas of black sand beaches – Ngarunui & Wainamu beaches. The drive there is an exciting adventure in itself with steep windy roads and hooligans not used to driving on such roads. We were following one car which tried to pass and it was lucky not to be wiped out. These roads are not made for passing! Took a while for the heart to slow down. As a surfing mecca, many people believe that Manu Bay on the coast has the longest, most accessible and consistent left-hand break in the world. If you have the required level of skill, it’s possible to catch a wave and cruise for up to two kilometres. Manu Bay (also known as The Point) was featured in the 1966 cult surfing movie Endless Summer. Raglan township has an entertaining mix of cafés, bars, surf shops, galleries and an interesting mix of individuals. This part of New Zealand has always attracted people who are into sustainable lifestyles, so the residents are full of character. The town became the scene of public civil disobedience campaigns in the 1970s. Sun & Surf.