Auckland & Environs to Russell

This will be a catch-up blog – it’s now over 2 weeks later. Amazing how time flies …

We stayed at Ardmore, just south of Auckland, for five days. I was still feeling the effects of the food poisoning/gastro and stayed ‘home’ while Dave took off for a day at one of his favourite museums – MOTAT (Museum of Transport and Technology) which I HAVE seen and done(!)

We paid two visits to the Papakura Library with its free WiFi and were almost the last to leave one day. A local ukulele group which meets at the Library every week kept us entertained part of the time. It was good to catch up with email etc and work on the travel blog and 52 Ancestors. I really should fix my website so there are two separate blogs… We also caught up with a huge load of washing at a modern new laundromat.

The day before we left (Sunday) we went to Dave’s brother’s lovely home in Devonport for a family lunch with John, El and all four of their sons plus one of the wives. It has been some years since I saw them all and lovely to catch up. All the boys are SO different! We washed our flanelette sheets and gratefully accepted two cotton sheets From El – I’d forgotten to pack any.

On to Russell in the Bay of Islands. Dave had checked out possible camp sites on-line and apart from a very expensive commercial one there was a private POP (Park Over Property) which stated it was “suitable for large vehicles”. It turned out to be anything but! Perhaps for a smallish motorhome … but it was getting late and driver Dave was tired, and so decided to chance it. We got in through the gateway after having to steer way over to the wrong side of the road, but then were confronted with a mostly sloping site, just one place to park and almost nowhere to turn. Back and forth, back and forth … at one stage the ute and caravan were at right angles. Dave had to drive right onto the owner’s lawn in order to straighten the caravan a bit. During one of those maneouvres he managed to just clip a tree …. Which took out the entire corner panel of lights etc on one side of the rear. Eventually patched up with two rolls of duct tape. All the lights still work apart from the non-important small light at the top of the carvan. The tree of course was unscathed. The site owner was unconcerned regarding his misleading advertising.

Next morning, Anzac Day, we had a fishing date with friends Jacqui and Pete – at the Russell wharf, 8 am sharp. It was a lovely day; we motored a little closer to the harbour entrance near some rocks and Dave and Pete fished nonstop all morning. Quite a few snapper were caught but mostly undersize, then Pete hooked a large Kawahai, and soon after Dave hooked what must have been a veritable monster of a Kingfish (he saw it briefly). But after playing it for about 20 minutes and getting it very close to the boat the line must have snagged on a rock and suddenly snapped.

A huge cruise ship arrived – the “Celebrity Carnival” – definitely not my favourite sort of sailing vessel!. (For readers who don’t know my history, go to “Cornelius – a Pearling Lugger.”

In all we spent 4 days in Russell. Jacqui and Pete entertained us royally. On the Friday – my birthday – it turned cold and rainy but that did not deter us from attending the Friday Dress-Up ritual at Carl’s Coffee Cart at Long Beach. Dave wore his kilt to go with Jacqui’s newly acquired semi-vintage tartan kilt.…. Then it was a rush off to Kerikeri for a hairdressing appointment for me which Jacqui had persuasively arranged, resulting in a great new hairstyle – I felt like a new woman. We discovered a Gluten-free cafe – said to be the only one in NZ – and vsited it twice.

That afternoon was a Fox Terrier Owners’ Walk in both Kerikeri and in Christchurch. About 10 standard-size foxies including two wire-haired turned up, including the famous Charlie Browne of Facebook fame, who we had met a few years ago back home. I was given the privilege of leading (ie being led by) Miss Raven, a very cute junior champion foxie. The walk was in the park next to the Stone House, a very historical building I wrote about in an earlier blog.

Finally back home for a quick rest and then dress-up time again for a birthday dinner at the ‘Duke of Marlborough’. Which was superb. I forgot to take any photos until leaving so contented myself with two outside shots, taken from the same place.

The weather foreceast being particularly dire for the far north east coast, we reluctantly decided to forget about visiting Cape Reinga. It was probably a good idea we did!

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