Day 5 – Happy Birthday Dad!

I had a big sleep-in this morning, completely didn’t hear the alarm.  But the first activity of the day wasn’t until 10:30, so no risk of missing it.  We went back to Ronnie’s for breakfast, having learnt how few brekky places Auckland seems to have.

The morning plan was to take a ferry cruise around the harbour.  We arrived in plenty of time, enough time even to go and check out the “OK gift shop”.  I guess if you want an excellent gift shop perhaps you have to look elsewhere.  But OK it certainly was, and picked up a few meagre gifts for the folks back home.

Again Auckland had blessed us with perfect weather – barely a cloud in sight, really helping the Waitemata Harbour live up to its name.  Waitemata is a Maori word for ‘The Sparkling Waters”.  (Or maybe not, if you read Wikipedia.  ‘Wai’ is water – so it’s at least part right regardless.)

Sparkling they were, regardless – a great trip out into the harbour, past the working docks, (car carriers are funny looking boats, it must be said), and out to the famous Bean Rock lighthouse with its own cottage, that families used to live in, though if you needed a pint of milk your only option was to jump in a dinghy and row yourself back to shore, so that part wouldn’t have been the most fun.  Still, think of the views!  These days, of course, the whole thing is automated and there are no more lighthouse keepers.  It still does a good  job of keeping ships safe from nearby reefs though.

The cruise included a brief (as in <10 minutes!) stop at Rangitoto Island, the newest volcanic island in the vicinity, having last erupted only around 600 years ago.  As a result there’s a lot of black volcanic rock, and it’s a wonder how the trees grow with only 500 years worth of work to make any kind of soil.  It’s also pest-free, so a kind of sanctuary for the native wildlife.

On the way we also saw an impressive bunch of kites – possibly just advertising the Aquarium as they seemed to be  nearby, but a pretty impressive sight nonetheless.  Also, being the ‘city of sails’ there were plenty of boats out and about – it was pretty windy out there so a good day to sailing.  But there were still what looked like thousands of boats still in the marinas – we sailed in to one for a look at all the boats, but all I could think of was 1980s music, Miami Vice, and Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous – maybe the 80s was the decade that established the link that having a yacht meant you were very rich.

The cruise ticket also came with a bonus – a free return trip to Devonport.  Only 6 minutes by ferry, or a one hour drive in peak hour.  Despite being so close to Auckland it’s half a world away – a small town that has retained much of its history and character.  The chocolate shop we visited was excellent (I mean, it sells chocolate, what’s not to like), but the lunch we had elsewhere (let’s not name and shame) was pretty disappointing.  Serves us right for getting there after all the pie shops had sold out of pies, I guess!  While waiting for the ferry back we sat by the foreshore with great views across to Auckland, and I was able to FaceTime Mum & Dad and to wish Dad a Happy Birthday.  Happy Birthday Dad!


Now even though we’re away on holidays some things can’t be ignored.  Thats right, it’s Sunday night, so Dr Who was on the telly.  We found the channel, and all was well, but imagine my surprise when adverts interrupted it.  So rude!

After that we went back to the wonderful ‘Monsoon Poon’ restaurant for dinner.  The butter chicken was simply amazing, the Thai Beef Salad, slightly less so. Still good, but not oh-my-god-this-is-amazing.  Still, all beautiful fresh ingredients so still left being very happy with the place.  Will surely return next time we’re in Auckland.

And that was about it for our last full day here … tomorrow will be a lazy breakfast and then on to the airport to come back to reality. And the cat. So there’s always a silver lining.