Friday 25th October -part 3

When we had finished our walk – the kids were keen to do it all over again!!
We arrived back at the carving house and were given a choice of coaster designs to carve.P1000178
Azzan had some difficulty with handling the tools so the master carver assisted him.
The worked together as a team 🙂P1000179
Mahalia carved the fern.
Azzan the kiwi and I did the koru.
When I was talking with the carver while he oiled my carving he commented to me that the koru represented nurturing and that my deep lines showed I was a deep nurturer 🙂
Then we went and gave our feet a mud soak.
That was deliciously lovely 🙂P1000185 P1000187
From there we went on to the next phase of our adventure.
The Mud Spa.
It was absolutely divine, massaging the mud into ourselves and soaking in it.
Such a soothing and healing thing to do.
We were only allowed a maximum of 20mins in there – carefully timed!P1000189Then a shower to wash off the mud.P1000192And into the spa pools.
We could stay in these pools for as long as we wanted.
They were all around 40’C.
Chilled water was provided for us.P1000199The kids wanted to go up to the top pool and when I went up to try it out they told me to be really really careful as it was so very very hot.
I gingerly put my toes in and found it was  a cold pool.
Brats! 🙂P1000201 P1000204
I chatted with a lovely Japanese girl who was there with her mother.
Then we finally pulled ourselves out and went to shower and dress.
It was after 4pm when we left feeling very relaxed.
We made our way out to the Okere Falls.
Found out later that they are kayaked down regularly.
P1000214 P1000219 P1000220There were 60 very steep steps to go down and back up to see them, but the spa must’ve helped as I managed them without as much pain as before.P1000221
We then went to find Tim’s cousin Ann.
Had to go back to The Store and get directions.
There was a beerfest happening so cars for miles so I sent Mahalia in to ask while I double parked on the very busy road.
Finally located her and John’s house.
Such a magical place on the shores of Lake Rotoiti.
The threatening rain finally closed in while we were there so I didn’t get to explore their wonderful garden.
Next time we will do that plus John has promised to take us in his boat to the hot pools in the lake.
Lots of things to come back north to do!!
We pulled ourselves away around 6pm and drove back to Rotorua.
Stopped at the supermarket to stock up on supplies.
Then back to the motel.
Chilled out, hung wet things in the thermally heated drying room, Mahalia painted her nails and then we eventually had our dinner around 9pm.
It was pretty tasty – maybe more so cuz I was so darn hungry!P1000227

Friday 25th October -part 2

We were given a map showing us the way around the walk.
So we stowed our swimming gear in a bin provided for us and then set off on the walk.
The kids loved every bit of it.
They had not been to a geothermal area before so thought it was amazing.
Azzan kept saying that it was so ugly and yet so beautiful.
This was the entrance to the geothermal area.

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The steam vents began as soon as we stepped out of the office.P1000026
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We walked through a walkway to a larger geothermal area.P1000089
The Kakahi Falls were beautiful.
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There were beautiful camellia trees planted amongst the natives along the walk.
This was the prettiest one I saw.P1000097
The geothermal valley was rather spectacular in a moonscape sorta way.
There were names and descriptions of each place along the path.P1000103 P1000108The Devil’s Cauldron, containing three types of geothermal mud.P1000110 P1000122
This Mud Volcano is unique in New Zealand.
It has grown to 2.4m and is still growing.
Every 6 weeks the top hardens and then in 2-3 days the pressure builds up and erupts over an area of 5m!P1000126 P1000127
The hottest pool in the reserve is the Steaming Cliffs – 122’C at the surface and 144’C at 1m deep!
The boiling activity is constantly changing and can reach heights of 3m.
The wafting steam made it difficult to see at times.P1000135 P1000150 P1000151 P1000154P1000175

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It was a fantastic experience.
The kids loved it.



Friday 25th October -part 1

I was awake and showered by 7am.
We had talked about going on the buffet breakfast cruise last night.
Azzan was keen to come with me but Mahalia refused to get out of bed, so we left her sleeping.
I wasn’t sure if we would get on the boat as I hadn’t booked but there was plenty of room and we were welcomed by the captain, telling us to come on board and pay later!
The Lakeland Queen is an original paddle steamer.
Our breakfast was served as soon as we had all boarded.
We had 2 bus groups of Koreans join the cruise too.
Breakfast was hearty and wholesome.
Certainly not flash but a rendition of good Kiwi farming fare.
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Once we had finished eating we headed upstairs.
Went out on the bow in front of the wheelhouse.
It was a clearer view there but the wind was cold so didn’t stay outside too long.IMG_4386
Down the stern the paddles were pushing us along at a comfortable speed.IMG_4392IMG_4398 IMG_4412

It was a most enjoyable way to begin our day.
On the way back to the motel we went to Noel Leeming to look at cameras.
They only had 3 Panasonics in stock today, but one of them was very close to the one I damaged yesterday so after some deliberation I bought it.
Then we zipped back to the motel.
I was overwhelmed by then with absolute tiredness and just needed to rest.
Mahalia was only just getting through her shower so took a while to open the door, by which time we were getting very over waiting in the hall.
Sat and tried to get the internet working.
Just lost the plot, trying to work out what and where we are going next, couldn’t get information or maps or do any replies cuz the internet would not connect.
Was feeling so frustrated.
Ended up in tears, then took my laptop down to the desk and they sorted it of me and gave me a different unlimited connection which I really appreciated.
I was having an emotional morning and it wasn’t taking much to tip the balance.
I am really missing Tim, with my knee being so sore and my shoulder not great either I am feeling somewhat fragile and just need his arms to wrap around me and give me a big supportive loving hug.
I so miss his hugs.

Finally made some basic decisions as to what we could do.
Went back to the shops to get some towels and while in Farmers I found some different swimwear to what I saw in Whakatane.
While I was in the changing rooms I was aware of several older/elderly couples there.
The women were trying on clothes and their husbands were right there giving encouragement and advice.
It was so lovely to see and overhear.
I was once again overcome with a huge sense of emptiness and loss and longing to have Timmy sitting there helping me choose.
He hated the shopping process but when we did go shopping together he would find a chair nearby and sit patiently waiting,  giving his opinion on my choices – and making the most of the time out to rest his legs.
The concrete jungle wasn’t his favourite place to walk, because of his physical lopsidedness walking/standing on the hard even surfaces would eventually make his back really sore.
He was physically built for our hilly farm 🙂
I plucked up the courage to call an attendant to give me some advice on the swimsuit I had found.
She gave me the once over and agreed that it was a good fit, the colour suited me really well, and that I should get it.
So I did.
What a relief, I hate trying on things like that at the moment.
I have put on so much weight since the accident.
I hate being this heavy but I just haven’t the energy to put into losing it at the moment.
I am not eating the wrong foods, just eating haphazardly.
I am getting out and walking with the kids since we have been away but now my knee is giving me so much pain that is restricting things a bit.
I am not letting it depress me but it does get me down when I am trying on clothes :-/
I try and listen to Tim’s voice in my ear, he used to say to me when I would moan that I couldn’t fit my jeans, – ‘Just buy a larger size.’ 🙂

We drove on and did a wee tiki tour to show the kids the sights of the city.
Found Rachel Spring – Whangapipiro with a temperature of 212’F
Then we meandered around the streets and found ourselves at Ohinemutu.
St Faith’s is a beautiful old church.P1000003
We carried on around the lake front and out onto the end of a nearby peninsula.
It was teeming with birdlife.
These cute wee goslings came over to investigate us.P1000006 P1000015

We drove back around past the old Bath House building which is now the museum.P1000963

Then we found our way out of the city and were heading back towards Whakatane.
I discovered to my great frustration that Mahalia had not brought her togs or towel so I did a u-turn on the very busy highway and drove all the way back tot he motel so she could get them.
Then back on the road again out to Hells Gate.
Finally got there and decided to participate in everything on offer!

Thursday 24th October

The body was very creaky when I woke up at 6:30am today.
Mahalia is definitely not a morning person.
This is what I found when I went to wake her at 9am 🙂
I pottered about until the others got up.
Then while we breakfasted and packed I caught up my blog.
Donna headed off to work – after some photo fun 🙂
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The kids packed put he car for me.
We locked up and then headed off to Papamoa cuz I wanted to do some shopping there.
After a few false turns we found our way and I got the clothes I wanted.
Esquires was close by so we got some chillers.
But they were so horrid that they made us feel sick and we never finished them.
Won’t be repeating those 😦

Carried on towards Whakatane.
There were heaps of massive road constructions happening around Papamoa – really interesting to try and work out what they were doing.
We drove through Te Puke, talked about the kiwifruit industry there but didn’t stop.
The road followed the coast, Mahalia was taking photos out the window as we drove.
She was complaining because the scenery was too flat and boring compared to the hilly windy roads we have navigated.
Then found this cute wee place – Maketu.
Large wetlands area with this river flowing beside the road – someone has a sense of humour 🙂 P1100374

We drove through Whakatane followed the iPhone maps and it took us to the middle of somewhere in the suburbia so we rerouted ourselves and decided to head over Gorge Road to Ohope Beach.
I stopped at the top and Mahalia hopped out to take some photos of the view.
Later I found one of the view and 3 of her!!
We drove right towards the end of the ocean road and found this cutting down to the beach.
Azzan didn’t want to come so I left him in the car and walked down here to see the sea.
It was so pretty.P1100383

No-one anywhere.
The beach went forever each way.P1100384


Whale Island in the background.P1100387

Mahalia came down to see the sea too and she was so excited by the loveliness of the place she was dancing a jig 🙂P1100394 P1100393

Azzan came to see where we were.
I was really anxious as I had left my bag in the car with all my money etc in it.
He said he had locked the car but from past experience I knew that I needed to check that the windows were all up and everything was safe as the vehicle was just out of sight.
I turned to run back up the track, caught my toe on a piece of driftwood that was hidden in the sand and went flying flat on my face.
I sat stunned, covered with sand, and my toe and shin aching from the impact.
But the worst thing was, I had my camera in my hand and it hit the sand with a wallop and is now no longer working.
So the above photos were the last ones I took on it.
I borrowed Azzan’s camera for the rest of the day, which has no telephoto lens and is of lesser quality.
But at least I had that plus my iPhone.
We decided to head back to Ohope for lunch.
I was feeling somewhat fragile so we sat indoors and ate wedges and sour cream and drank copious amounts of cold water as the day had come out quite hot.

Then we drove to the western end of the beach and parked up so we could walk over the hill to Otarawairere Beach that everyone told us was very beautiful.
I wanted to do the walk so we set off towards the steps.
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It was mostly a manmade step and boardwalk track.
Quite steep in places.
I made it all the way up to the top.P1000934
The views were lovely along the way.
But when I went to start walking down the steps on the other side of the ridge, my knee put me into a pain orbit.
I just knew there was no way I could get down there and back up again with that amount of pain already.
So I opted to sit up top and wait for the kids.
But they decided not to go down and just wanted to help me back the way we had come.
I was aright as long as I had the railing to hold on to.
But where there was no rails the kids provided shoulders and hands to assist me.
I felt so bad that we couldn’t do the walk, but they kept reassuring me that it was okay.
We managed to get back to the beach and had a wander in the surf.
It was really pretty with the tide out leaving patterns on the sand.
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My two darlings who looked out for me today – sweet ones 🙂P1000923

We headed back to Whakatane and went to The Hub to look for a swimsuit for me and some shorts.
Mahalia found herself some shorts but there was nothing I liked.
Drove to the next wee place and fueled up and then carried on south to Rotorua.
It was quite cool going through new landscapes.
Dairy farms, forestry and then over hills and along beside the lakes.
Then we arrived in Rotorua and checked in at our motel – The RotoVegas.
Nice wee unit.
Azzan made himself at home immediately.
Margaret arrived to visit with us.
She had been wwoofing for us earlier in the year so it was lovely to be able to catch up with her again.
Kids went off for a quick swim.
Then we all walked down the street to the Thursday evening markets.
It was such fun.
A great atmosphere with locals, many different ethnic groups providing wonderful choices of food & crafts, tourists mixing with locals.
We found a table and chairs to sit at and I chatted with a couple of young travelers.
Alina from Israel and Rahel from Germany.
We exchanged names and contact details and will probably see them again when they come to the South Island.IMG_4365
Azzan was pretty rapt cuz he found the Pommie stall.
The lady was selling all sorts of food and drinks from the UK.
Azzan bought the last can of Dr Pepper – as you can see he was buzzing even before he drank it!!IMG_4366

We began wandering back to the motel around 8:30pm.
It was such a lovely mild balmy night.
I love the leisurely relaxed feel of night like this.
So calm and peaceful and in another way exhilarating.
Kids came back to the unit and I popped over to Countdown to get some yoghurt for breakfast.
And now it is time to hit the pillows.
Tonight I get the single bed and the kids are sharing the double.

Wednesday 23rd October

Today is Nathan’s 18th Birthday.
Happy Birthday my Natey Joel.
Wishing I was able to flit my way back to Nelson for a few hours to celebrate with you.
But as I am not a time traveler I will have to party up with you when I get home.
It really doesn’t seem so long since you were just a babe cuddled in your Daddy’s arms.
And now you are a debonair confident young man with a beautiful young lady at your side.
So proud of you – and I know your Dad would be too xxxx

We were all breakfasted and out the door around 9:30am.
Donna came with us and navigated me which was a great help.
We went to Bayfair Mall first.
Met up with Heather for coffee and a chat.
It was great to see her – been a while!
She and Evan are moving to Tokoroa so it was very timely that I caught her this morning.

We did a little bit of shopping and then drove to Mount Maunganui.
Parked up at the bottom of the Mount and met Rachel & Alice at a cafe there.
Had lunch and chatted.
Then went for a walk on the beach.
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It was so lovely there.
Hardly a soul there.
Just how we like our beaches!!
We paddled and got splashed by the surf.
Rachel & Alice had to head off so we said our goodbyes and then the kids came back from their exploring telling us we just had to come over and see this wonderful place they had found.
And it was definitely only accessible by clambering over these rocks!
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Donna took these following four great photos 🙂
Image 1 Image 2  Image 4 Image
So we obediently followed – very gingerly making our way up and over trying very hard not to fall and create total asses of ourselves!
My knee really packed a wobbly and was incredibly sore when I made certain movements so I was having to really nurse it along so it took my a lot longer.
Mahalia was very good to us old ladies and came and carried all our things and gave us the necessary hand ups when needed.
The kids found some crabs hiding in this deep crevice.
They were determined we had to come and enjoy this wee piece of paradise.
It was worth the trouble – a gorgeous spot.
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The other thing that made it very difficult was that I was in bare feet and the beach was made up from very sharp broken shells.

Mahalia was perched on one side of these rocks asking me if I thought she could jump that far??
I was like – ‘well you better jump right across cuz there’s no way I can carry you out of here if you fall between the rocks!!’
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She did it 🙂

But we did laugh as once we had clambered over the rocks to the ‘totally inaccessible by any other way’ we discovered that there were steps up to the walking track.
So we walked back that way.
Much easier on my feet!
P1100348 P1100350

Once back at the vehicle we headed off along the beach to  Omanu and visited Sid.
He was thrilled to see us and we enjoyed glasses of cold Kiwifruit juice and a great time chatting with him.

The afternoon was disappearing so we had to take out leave.
Drove back into Tauranga and with Donna’s expert directions we found Starbucks.
Sat and enjoyed our drinks for a wee while.
Image 3Outside I was fascinated by the guerrilla knitting decorating the trees.
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Drove all the way back to Ohauiti.
Dropped Donna off and freshened up.
Sorted out our washing and got that underway.
Then Donna drove ahead of us and helped me navigate the roundabouts so I could get to Welcome Bay without diverting to the mount again!
We got to Aidy’s parent’s house around 6pm.
The view looking out over to the Mount was spectacular.
We spent a most enjoyable evening there with Aidy & his mother Linda.
His dad was unwell so unfortunately didn’t join as for dinner.
Linda had cooked a delicious roast meal.
It was lovely as we hadn’t had a roast since leaving home.
The kids blobbed out with the TV later on and Aidy and I talked till late.
Got back to Donna’s sometime after 10pm.

Tuesday 22nd October

Susan cycled off to work at 7am.
She is amazing – cycles all the way from Coromandel to Manaia to teach.
We had a lovely leisurely morning just hanging out at her house.
It was really nice not to go anywhere.
There was heaps we could’ve done but we just enjoyed being there.
It is a real oasis.P1100223
Nothing like enjoying a morning chai while the we fish nibble your fingers.P1100224
Azzan enjoyed a catch up phone call with Asher.P1100226
We cleaned up and packed the car and then when Susan arrived back at midday we had some time with her before leaving for the next leg of our journey.
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Mahalia took my camera and got these amazing photos around the garden.P1100233 P1100234 P1100235 P1100237 P1100246 P1100250

We left around 1pm and drove south towards Thames.
Stopping along the way where we could to enjoy the scenery and take a few photos.P1100251 P1100255 P1100258 P1100262 P1100263 P1100269The mussel harvesters were chugging past – such a familiar sight for us in an unfamiliar but not dissimilar area.P1100270
When we got to Thames I was on the look out for  Z fuel station.
Couldn’t see one so pulled in at a Gull Station when I saw the fuel was cheaper than I had been paying elsewhere.
Never been to one before and after the service there probably won’t seek out another in a hurry.
I felt like asking the woman behind the counter what her problem was.
She was totally not pleasant, and the words smile and friendly and service were definitely not in her vocabulary!
Even the kids commented to me later about her very non friendly attitude.
Our next goal was to get to Paeroa.
The kids were so excited that we were going through there.
I had to stop at a shop for them to go buy some L&P and then we located the iconic bottle where they broke open the cans and drank their drinks.
They were so buzzed about doing that – funny kids!
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Then it was through the Karangahape Gorge.
It was not far through there, but wonderful scenery which we couldn’t stop to take many photos of as there was not many places to safely pull over.P1100280 P1100283 P1100284 P1100285 P1100293
Not too far on to Waihi which is famous for the gold mine there.
We found the historic pump house so walked up to have a look.P1100296
Azzan found the acoustics were great inside for singing – sounded pretty good actually.P1100300
Nearby was the lookout over the Martha Mine.
It is huge.
Not as big as the mines I saw in Kalgoorlie, but still massive.
We didn’t hang about too long.
We were heading to Tauranga, interesting road, the weather was closing in and threatening but nothing much came of it.
We finally got to Tauranga around 5pm.
Got tangled up in the stupid roundabout system and ended up having to drive all the way to Mount Maunganui and back.
Finally found our way to Donna’s.
We were warmly welcomed and were most thankful to stop.
We chatted, kids chilled, had dinner and then kids had a spa and headed to bed.

Donna & I lazed out in the spa and talked for ages.
Lovely way to finish the day.
I was so tired that I just fell into bed and went straight to sleep.

Monday 21st October

When I woke around 6am I saw the Orakei Basin had been drained over night and was just beginning to fill again.
Funny that we were only talking about that happening during our walk yesterday and then to see it empty this morning 🙂
We said our goodbyes to Diane & Wilf when they headed off to work early this morning.
Then it was time for us to pack up our things and sort out all the stuff in the vehicle.
It had gotten into a bit of a mess over the past 12 days.
While we were packing up etc I started putting the loads of washing through and was able to get them hung out to dry before we left.
I was feeling somewhat bone weary and muscle achey so thought a nice soak in Diane’s lovely deep bath would be just the treat before hopping back into the long distance drivers seat.
So I left the kids packing up their room and  had a wonderfully relaxing bath.
But, when I clambered out, I sat down on the closed toilet seat so I could recover from the exertion and dry my feet, and the lid broke into about 8 pieces and I fell in!
If it had been one of the kids that had done it I would’ve made use of my parental authority and yelled abuse at them for being so incredibly clumsy.
I was so incredibly embarrassed.
I text Diane and I am sure she is still laughing – she reckoned she wasn’t – Yeah Right!

Anyway, there was nothing I could do at that point so I carried on packing.
Mahalia helped sort out all the stuff and we were able to eliminate excess packing and get things loaded in a reasonable order which made me happy.
I do not like disorder and chaos.
We left the house around 9:30am so all going pretty much to plan.

Headed off to the Southern Motorway and drove for an hour to the Coromandel turnoff.
I find negotiating the motorways a tad stressful.
I hate driving along beside large trucks and trying to keep in my lane.
Keeps my stress levels fairly high.
Thankfully I had a very competent map reader with me.
Mahalia kept me on the right track.
We drove through farmlands and then over hills which look very similar to home territory.
We were all getting very hungry so were glad to stop at Tairua.
You look across the inlet at Pauanui – we visited the very elite  Waterways over there 18 years ago when they were just being constructed.
We went for a short tiki tour over to the other side of the town.
Found ourselves at the Tairua River mouth.
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Mount Paku is an extinct volcano that guards the entrance to the harbour.P1100075
Some interesting seaside cottages.P1100077
We went back to the main street to check out the food shops.
Just wanted something easy to take away and eat in the car as we carried on driving.
Found The Pepe and ordered.
The ladies there were lovely, very friendly.
When our order was ready they had it all packed up to go.
We opened the packets in the car and were blown away.
Mahalia was expecting just to have her lasagna just chucked in a bag but it was in a carry out container and was complete with salad.
They offered Azzan tomato sauce and gave it to him at no charge.
We would highly recommend the cafe to anyone passing through there.
The food was so good and the presentation was great.
I just ordered a Mexican muffin.
Wished I had known how good the food was there I would’ve ordered more!!
The muffin as SO good.P1100080
We carried on up the road and came across the Twin Kauri Reserve.
Mahalia and I had a wee explore session.
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And then finally we were at Hot Water Beach.
The kids didn’t want to hire a spade so we just parked up, kids changed into swim gear and we walk along the beach.
The cloud cover had gone and it was a glorious day.IMG_4321
P1100107There were already a few groups of tourists digging away to find the hot springs as the tide receded.P1100109
My two were not keen on the crowds.P1100110 P1100111 P1100115 P1100117
I couldn’t let Azzan go out swimming as there have been too many drownings here due to the tide rips.
He was itching to get out and swim but was very good and just frolicked in the shallows.P1100118 P1100120 P1100121

They dug themselves a hole.
They were just happy to play in the sand, didn’t want to get in amongst the crowd looking for the hot springs!IMG_4323

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Then as the tide went out we could feel more hot springs bubbling up under our feet.
At one point I was caught out in unbearably hot water!
Had to dance my way across them.
They looked really cool bubbling up into the sea water.P1100131 P1100132
On the way back Azzan wanted to play in the sand.
He was romping around in it like a frolicking puppy.P1100136 P1100137
Then he rolled around in the creek to wash off the sand.P1100139 P1100141
But the showers were still essential to wash off the excess sand from feet and bodies.
The sand is so insidious, it sticks to everything.P1100144
We carried on up the road further and found Hahei.
Another pretty spot.
We drove up to the lookout and were thinking of walking to Cathedral Cove but unfortunately it was a 45min walk each way and we just didn’t have an hour and a half to spare today.
Pencil it in for a definite must do next time.P1100153 P1100155 P1100161 P1100162 P1100163 P1100168
From there we headed north. stopped briefly at Whitianga.
Didn’t appeal to us so we carried on.

Kuaotunu Beach
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View looking out westwards over Coromandel from the summit of Whangapoua HillP1100184
At the lookout point at top of hill above.
There was a walking track leading to a mine battery but we just wanted to get to Coromandel today!P1100185 P1100204
Looking back the way we had come.P1100214
Step road down into Coromandel.P1100217

Susan was still on her way back home from school when we arrived so the kids played on her daisy covered lawn.
The were like freshly released caged puppies.

Susan and I made dinner – most of it from her garden.
The kids thought it was the absolute best meal.
And indeed it was 🙂
They played some more outside after dinner.
Susan had to go out for the evening.
I chatted with Anson & Seb on the phone and then edited my days photos.
The kids got themselves ready for sleep.
Susan came home at 10pm and we chatted while she ate her dinner.
So lovely to be here again.
I have known Susan all my life, and despite the absence of years our friendship is still strong.
Tim and I stayed here several times many years ago.
Wonderful to rekindle old friendships.

Sunday 20th October – part 3

I went off to change my footwear.
I was very glad I had put on my boots for the tower climb but they were far too hot to leave on any longer.
The kids had fun in the trees outside the church while they waited for me.P1000818 P1000823

Diane wanted the kids to have the Sky Tower experience so she sent them off up in the lift and we headed over the street to visit Sunniva & Mathieu at their apartment.
They were in recovery from a very disturbed night with wee Lily.
Poor wee rabbit was a bit distressed, probably with the same tummy upset they had.
No fun for parents or babe when they can’t tell you what the matter is.
Diane hadn’t had a baby fix for a few days so she was keen for a cuddle & chat with her granddaughter 🙂 P1100040
Then because we are leaving tomorrow I got to have a nice long cuddle with her.
She had gone off to sleep on Diane’s shoulder after a few burps.P1100043
The kids arrived back and came to say goodbye too.
They won’t be seeing her until New Year.
Long time when they grow so quickly.

Love this photo of Azzan & Lily’s hands.P1100045

Azzan took some goodbye selfliesP1000866


I got these photos from Azzan’s camera of their trip to the top of the Sky Tower.
This one is looking down on St Matthew’s bell tower where we had been just before.P1000826
Standing on the glass looking straight down below – I hate doing this!!P1000829 P1000837 P1000838 P1000845 P1000846 P1000849 P1000850 P1000851 P1000857

They really enjoyed their time up there.
So they have done the Two Towers!!
From there we drove, or rather meandered with the late afternoon traffic out to Mission Bay cuz we thought it would be easier to get Starbucks there than in town.
It wasn’t!
There were crowds for Africa the whole way out and the bay was seething with people.
But it was a lovely day to crawl along with all the other traffic and chat with Diane.
I parked in a 10min park and Mahalia shot across the road to replenish our fuel tanks!
We drove up the hill and on the way back Diane took us for a wander around St John’s Theological College where Wilf did his 4 years of studies when they first arrived in Auckland.
The chapel built in 1847 is a beautiful old wooden structure.P1100052
Around the back of it is the grave of Sir Paul Reeves.P1100053
This stone building is the oldest continuously inhabited building in Auckland.
It was the original Theological College building.

We finally made it back home.
Diane & Wilf popped over to the neighbors for farewell drinks.
We chilled out.
Then Diane took Tank for a walk and Wilf & Azzan went to get fish’n’chips for dinner.
Now it is time for sleep.

It has been a lovely day.
Busier than intended but totally unstressful.

Sunday 20th October – part 2

Diane made omelets with salad for lunch
Then we drove into the city.
Parked up at The Mission and Wilf took us for a climb up to the very top of the St Matthew’s tower.
It is a very beautiful neo-Gothic church – Sunni & Mat were married there last year.
There was a concert happening in the church so we had to creep in through a side door like quiet wee church mice and then clamber carefully up these narrow tight winding steps and squeeze through some very narrow doors.
It was quite a daunting exercise!P1100003 P1100006 P1100009 P1100010 P1100012 P1100013 P1100014
And then we were at the top!
It was really freaky.
The kids thought it was amazing.
It was a fantastic view and well worth the climb up.
But I was feeling physically sick at the thought of the long drop below 😦
But I really couldn’t handle seeing the kids near the edges even though they were quite safe!P1100016
The SkyTower is right across the street so we were looking at the top of it.



P1100019 P1100021 P1100025
There is a big Indian celebration happening at the moment and we could see and hear the crowds in the Aotea Square.P1100027
A beautiful tower in the distance.
Love its architecture.
Then it was time to go back down.P1100033 P1100034
Looking back up at the tower.
We were right on top between those two sharp pointy things at the top!!P1100051
Wilf headed off home to carry on with his cementing.
Thanks heaps Wilf – it was a great experience.

Sunday 20th October – part 1

I woke really early, glanced at my clock and rolled over back to sleep.
Then was woken by Jesika several hours later, at 6am saying to me that she had to leave now.
So I quickly rolled out of bed.
Zipped downstairs and gave her as big hug goodbye.
Diane drove her to the airport which I was really grateful for.
This was the view that greeted me as I woke.
Such a glorious morning.
Thanks for waking me up Jesika – travel safe my darling one xxxxP1090932

Once everyone was properly awake Diane suggested we go for a walk around the Orakei Basin Walkway which their section borders.
So I threw on some clothes & shoes, grabbed my camera and we were off.
It was a delightful morning for a walk.
We started by taking the steps down first to get the steep bits done first.
The kids were away laughing, way faster than me.
P1090937 P1090940
It has been beautifully created and is a wonderfully safe recreation area.
P1090941 P1090943 P1090944

There were a lot of people out enjoying the walkway too.
Running, jogging, walking, walking dogs – lots of dogs, kids biking, 
P1090946 P1090947 P1090951 P1090955
I want to know what this tree is.
I have seen in all over Auckland.P1090956
So this monstrosity building is not apartments or commercial space.
It is a private house in the making.
Personally I think some architects ought to be shot :-/
Fun to watch the water-skiers from this cool jettyP1090958
And then to walk out to the end of it, just because.P1090960
The kids were way ahead but had to wait when the track divided as they didn’t know where we were going.P1090962 P1090963 P1090966

We walked under Orakei Road to the Kings Garden Cafe and had a cold drink.
Best feijoa smoothie I have ever had.
Then we headed back towards the house along the walkway beside the train track.P1090969
You can see Wilf & Diane’s house easily because of the tall Norfolk Pine tree beside it, to the left of the horizon.
It tucks in nicely with another tall tree behind it.P1090973P1090975
The Basin is emptied  & cleaned about once a month through these sluice gates.
P1090976 P1090977
The kids went on ahead so missed out on the treat of literally being led up the garden path by Diane – through the bushes at the bottom of their sectionP1090979
It is a really lovely walk which normally takes Diane about 25mins but with me in tow we took a good hour or so 🙂P1090981
Diane & Wilf’s visitors had arrived so we sat out in the garden and enjoyed chatting over morning tea while the kids sunbathed out the front.
And yes, they did have sun screen on – Diane insisted 😉