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                                HAWKES BAY to AUCKLAND                            

TOURING THE NORTH ISLAND (con't)

We were having so much fun and covering so much of the North Island that I had lost track of the date. Suddenly I realized that Chris needed to catch his plane for Canada in a few days. We were still in the Waitomo area and hoped to make our way a little further south before having to head back to Whangarei. However time had run out.

Chris attempted to change his flight but there were no seats available. So we had to dash back to Whangarei (to get Chris' plane ticket) then drive back to Auckland in time for his departure.

On the Fast Track!

We decided to allow for long driving days and get a quick look at the Hawkes Bay area on our return trip to Whangarei. We headed back toward Taupo and all the way back to the east coast to spend our last night in Napier.

Hawkes Bay

The sweeping coastline of Hawkes Bay was worth the detour and long day of traveling. The road followed the coastline high above the water. We walked out to the bluff and caught a fabulous view across the tranquil sea.

Napier

Napier is a modern center with a population of 55,000. It's best known for its Art Deco architecture. The city was almost entirely rebuilt after the 1931 earthquake which devastated most of the buildings, and is probably a unique example of an entire city that has been built in a coherent architectural style. Napier  possesses one of the most significant collections of  Art Deco and Spanish Mission style buildings in the world.


An example of the
molded motifs & decorative panels found on the architecture

We arrived mid afternoon and checked into the Backpacker accommodation there. Then we took a drive toward Hastings to find Cape Kidnapper and the gannet colony. However, we arrived when it was high tide and not accessible.

We returned to the city and had the misfortune of picking a restaurant that served the worst buffet, despite the free steak, that we had during the entire trip!


Last Chance to Soak up the Sun!

We got an early start the next morning so that we would have some "Beach Time."  We found several wonderful secluded beaches along the coast of Hawkes Bay toward Gisborne. We spent several hours at Waipatiki Beach because it was such a gorgeous  day.


Hawkes Bay lived up to its reputation for lots of sunshine and we enjoyed the bright cloudless sky.

We all took the opportunity for a final walk on the beach

Wine Country

Hawkes Bay is the fruit bowl of New Zealand and the leading producer of award-winning red wines. All the vineyards bordering the highways reminded us of the Okanagan Valley.

Gisborne - Farmland

Gisborne sees the sun rise before any other city in the world. It is recognized as the Chardonnay capital of New Zealand. Because we were pressed for time, we didn't spend a lot of time here but instead, turned inland and headed toward Whakatane, The plains gave way to the hilly interior as we headed toward the Bay of Plenty. As ever, there was an abundance of sheep and cattle that covered the landscape.


The City of Sails

Auckland

Auckland is New Zealand's largest city with a population of 1,291,091 (31% of NZ overall population). It is very spread out and covers a staggering 16,140 km. so it is not surprising that we got lost a lot while driving around the city. 

We drove around Auckland Central and then parked the car at the waterfront. We walked around the Viaduct Basin which was the focal point for the 2003 America's Cup with its cafes, bars and mass crowds.

We thought it would be a good idea to drive to the top of Mt. Eden to get a view of the city, but after several attempts to find the right road, we gave up on the idea and made a beeline back to Whangarei because it was getting late.

We arrived  in Whangarei tired from the very long drive. We had one day to relax on the boat before heading back to Auckland to take Chris to the airport.

We are so sad to see him go! His time spent here has gone too fast but I hope he will take home memories that will last at least until his next adventure with us...who knows where it will be next time!

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