After breakfast, we had a last look at the town and started the final leg of our drive to Auckland. We drove north along the coast to Kuaotunu and then west to Coromandel. Our first stop was the great kauri block track. Kauri are trees, which can grow up to 50 m tall. They can have a girth of 16 m and are able to live for 2000 years. Their timber was used by the Māori for boat and house construction. We walked on the track with views over the Firth of Thames, the town and oyster farms. It was a comfortable walk of over an hour.
We continued driving south towards the town of Thames and then to Kopu, where we crossed the bridge to leave the Coromandel Peninsula. We continued inland towards Auckland. Stopping for a sandwich, we saw a Kiwi Plantation on the other side of the road.
Kiwi trees are taller than humans. The structure is built to make the kiwi fruit harvest easier. The trees were laden with fruit, but as it was spring, the kiwis were still green. The fields were surrounded by trees making it look like a wall protecting the plantation. Entry was forbidden to prevent the trees from getting any diseases. There is such a fear of diseases that strict measures are in place.
We arrived in Auckland in the late afternoon. We drove to our accommodation, directed there by our SatNav. . Whilst crossing the Auckland Harbour Bridge. we were surprised to see people walking on the top of it. Later, we learned that one can do guided walking tours on this bridge.
Auckland is very hilly and a very green city. Our accommodation was at the foot of a hill. In the evening, we walked about 2 km to a restaurant. At the top of our hill, we had a lovely view of the city.
We appreciated a dinner with our son and spent a lot of time talking about the last ten days. He would return to Australia while we would fly back home.
When we returned to our accommodation later in the evening, the view had changed: Auckland by night, an ocean of light.
Next morning, our last day in New Zealand, we drove to the airport. It was a beautiful day, and I enjoyed the wonderful view of Auckland.
Arriving at the airport meant for me the end of our holiday. We were accompanied by our son until it was time to board the plane. Onboard, we started talking about the last few weeks. Whilst talking, I always looked outside and was rewarded by the view of Mount Taranaki, in the Egmont National Park. It appeared in the middle of the clouds. The North Island had given me a farewell gift. We continued flying south, engulfed in clouds, without a view of the ground or ocean. To our surprise, arriving in Queenstown on the South Island, the clouds opened like curtains, and we saw the town from the air for the first time. To our pleasure, the pilot circled the town as we were in a “holding pattern waiting to land”. We enjoyed a spectacular view of the town and the surroundings. Marvellous!
We spent four wonderful weeks in New Zealand, but there was not enough time. You really need a year to explore the entire country and discover all that it has to offer. Or you fall in love and stay there forever. I could imagine living on the South Island, but it will always remain a dream.