Friday, 18 March 2011

The end of the holiday.

Back in Auckland, in the house where Niles and Heather live, I took a few last minute shots out of the window.

It seems that we are right in the bush?

Look carefully, bottom right in the second photo.

See the railway line?

And here's the train, right outside the window!

On this last evening of our holiday, Heather took us out to one last meal. A large quick food place which, in some respects, resembled MacDonalds. Ah! But the food!

You could buy a meal from just about anywhere in the world in that place. It would taste good and arrive quickly at a very reasonable price. I hadn't had Nasi Goreng for a long time (in the RAF, I used to go back for three platefuls!) and here it was delicious.

Next day we left sun and 30 degrees behind and 27 hours later, hal;f asleep and freezing, we were back in the UK.

If you ever want a holiday in NZ, ask Heather to arrange it. Ours was absolutely brilliant.

Thanks Heather.

Thanks too, to the both of you for putting up with us underfoot!

When can we come again?

Thursday, 17 March 2011

To Hobbiton

Next day, after an excess of tidying and cleaning at the batch (we were scolded by the owner - we'd done too good a job), we headed for Matamata and
Hobbiton. We were in a hurry to get there otherwise we would have stopped for photos. The view of the Matamata plain from the top was another that you need to stand and stare at.

Once in Matamata, you couldn't miss it had something to do with Lord of the Rings.
Even the information Office had a round entrance.

We were very excited (at least I was) as we bought our tickets and given directions to The Shire's Rest. The sun was blazing down and there was hardly a cloud. A perfect day to take four hundred and eighty six photos of Hobbit holes.

Note the document attached to the ticket. It tells us we can take photos but 'You must keep what you see and hear strictly confidential'. I've already signed the official secrets act!

So, as I cannot show you Hobbiton, use your imagination. Imagine in this photo, taken not far from The Shire's Rest, there are Hobbit holes, chimneys sticking out from the ground, hobbits tending gardens etc. Alternatively, go and watch Lord of the Rings.

So now we have come full circle.

Here we are again at The Shire's Rest

and here's my 'second breakfast washed down with 'SobeRing Thought' which, considering it was only 1%, was really rather good. It doesn't look very 'stout' but it tastes like one.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Mount Maunganui

Next, we were off to Mount Maunganui with its vast empty beach. Mind you, when we were there, it was hardly surprising it was empty. Weather wise, it was the worst day of the holiday. Grey skies, showers and the temperature dropped off in the evening.

Heather was determined to do some boarding though, and even tried to teach me. Apparently they were the wrong kind of waves.
I still ended up hardly able to walk after it!

The last time we were here, we tried to meet up with an old friend of the shop, Moretonian, Gary Snape, but it simply didn't happen.

This time, Gary was kind enough to motor over from his home in Matamata and meet us in a bar where he entertained us with his experiences of life as a Kiwi. He reckons it's pretty good.

Good to see you Gary!

The day ended with some more excellent Fish and Chips on (or very near) the beach and then a walk along it.

As you can see, it was a little windy and there was a lot of salt in the air. That's salt - I'm not that grey haired!

It had been another enjoyable day even if I was limping. Strangest past of it though - I didn't have a beer, all day!

Saturday, 12 March 2011


Next, Katikati, or the Mural Town.

Nearly every blank wall in this otherwise unspectacular town has a mural painted on it.

It certainly attracts tourists.

I wonder if we could do something similar in Moreton-in-Marsh?

Difficult in these photos to imagine them wall sized.

Most of them are of old time New Zealand and I liked them all, especially the ostrich race.

It continues round the back of the building too.

Very different was the collection of Takehe. Or are they Pukeko?

Anne just had to sit next to this guy for a photo.

I wonder how many thousands of people have taken this shot?

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Mud Slides

On the road again, over the mountains which had recently received 16inches of rain in as many hours, we came across evidence of mudslides.

One all tidy,

another still being cleaned up.

Apparently these slides which block the road are not uncommon but that is some rainfall!

We were headed for Hot Water Beach but would have had to wait for some hours for the tide to retreat.

Still, we had a wander on a beach but memory fails me now. Is this Hot Water Beach Heather?

Cathederal Cove too was off limits. More mud (rock?) slides.

We had a look at the view

posed for a photo at the top

and then met up with a fair sized grass-hopper. Or is this a locust?

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Driving Creek Railway

A short walk across the road from The Goldminer's Retreat was the most amazing little railway. Driving Creek Railway is 'New Zealand's only narrow-gauge mountain railway' and was built by potter, Barry Brickell. Started in 1975 with the main use of fetching clay from the hill-side for Barry's pots, it is now used mainly as a tourist attraction.

The journey, zig-zagging through the bush over viaducts that look as if built using bamboo and meccano parts, is unforgettable.

From only a short distance, it is completely invisible in the dense bush.

There are many examples of Barry's ingenuity as well as some of his pottery on the ride.

The view from the top, 'The Eyefull Tower', looks down upon the hill, newly planted with native NZ trees, and across to the islands in the Hauraki Gulf.

I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Heather had sorted out a most unusual place for us to stop on our night at Coromandel.

It was 'The Goldminer's Retreat'.

Three log cabins built in mining country and run by an amiable couple, Helen and Roso.

Here's our cabin, nestled in the bush but only a minutes walk from the road.

The kitchen - rather better than the stoves the miners would have used, I think. Breakfast was excellent and the eggs were fresh lad by the free range hens the owners had.

There was only one other couple in the log cabins, again a nice friendly couple, but, as customers of Cotswold Bookstore** will hardly find surprising, I cannot remember their names!

The group of residents we could all name were ...

Stick Insects

in various colours

End of another long day, a sit down hoping for an early Kiwi. Or at least a beer.