Back on home soil
We arrived 10pm on Tuesday night at Auckland airport after a very pleasant time at the Qantas business lounge in Sydney.
Having returned to New Zealand many times and been faced with the queues from hell it was a pleasant surprise to get through customs and baggage claim in less than half an hour. If you are ever booking a flight to Auckland then aim to arrive at 10pm as I think the Sydney flight was the only one.
My brother Neil and his wife Yvonne were there to meet us and after a short drive, we were at his place in Conifer Grove. Shortly after, we went to bed and I, finally, got a good nights sleep. My biggest surprise was to see Beaver, his dog, who was still alive. He is 20 years old and still kicking.
Day One Auckland the City of Sails
My brother lives in South Auckland and lives nearby to a train station. We took a train from Takinini to Britomart station in downtown Auckland. Then it was a short walk to the Viaduct. Debbie was expecting a Roman type viaduct and surprised to see that it was a wharf. Auckland viaduct is a work in progress and has some lovely restaurants and a few museums. We visited on a wet day and there was hardly anyone around. We had lunch at a restaurant called Snapdragon. They had a lunch special so I had fish and chips and Debbie a steak sandwich. After lunch we went to nearby New Zealand tourist information office. There also is a Department of Conservation counter here where you can find out more information about the National Parks and the track network throughout New Zealand.
We wanted to visit Tiritiri Matangi Island in the Hauraki Gulf. The island is a sanctuary where several endangered native bird species have been successfully reintroduced. The Department of Conservation has 30 places for sleeping overnight on the island. I thought we would have to just do a day trip but amazingly they had two bunk spots left for the following week so, I booked and paid for them and the 75 minute ferry ride out to the island (just a tip, you can find a 10% discount for the ferry when you look through the pamphlet on Auckland – sadly, we found this out after we had booked it). We are book looking forward to hearing the dawn chorus of birds and hopefully the weather will be kind to us. The ferry across costs $150 with a guided walk on the island and the accommodation was $60. YOu need to bring your own food and a sleeping bag.
The weather was not kind to us so, we went for a walk around the viaduct and some window shopping before catching a return train back to Manurewa. We then went out to dinner at my brother’s members only local club the Manurewa Cosmopolitan Club. I, also, met up with an old friend from my tramping with a club called the Manukau Tramping Club where we the caught up over a few beers on the last 25 years. It was a lovely day and great to catch up with Jeff and book an overnight visit to Tiritiri Matangi wildlife sanctuary.
Do not arrive at Auckland airport in the morning the queues are long and slow.
Check tourist information first before booking any tours as there are discounts for some attractions or ferry rides.
Check for cancellations or places free to stay overnight on Tiritiri Matangi, if you have not booked it in advance.
Costs for Day One
Train to Auckland: $32.00
Lunch at Snapdragon: $35.70
Coffee and tea: $7.00
Drinks at viaduct: $21.00
Tiritiri Matangi ferr& Volunteer Tour of island: $150.00
Bunkhouse accommodation: $60.00
Drinks and dinner meal: $71.00
Total: NZ$389.19 = US$287