Monday January 18th: Bay of Islands
I am sure that this is an idyllic place. That did not seem to be the case this morning as we awoke to heavy rain and strong winds And we had to tender ashore, which was an added complication in rough seas. After a delay, we did go ashore at Wairaga and headed by local ferry to Russell The weather had improved and I thought that Russell, the very first capital of New Zealand, was a charming, pretty, historical town. It was the final day of our cruise, and a fitting place to end a tour of some of New Zealand's top places to see.
We spend the evening saying goodbye to the guys in our group. Always a slightly artificial event. We said how great their company had been, promised to keep in touch, yet all knew that we wouldn't. Such is life.
Tuesday January 19th: Auckland
We disembarked early and because our room was not ready, we spent the morning in an Auckland laundrette getting our dirty clothes washed.
We then had a quiet afternoon in the hotel followed by an enjoyable meal down by Auckland harbour.
Wednesday January 20th:Auckland
It is a standard thing to do - the hop-on-hop-off bus, but it worked well. The journey gave us a good impression of Auckland and we had interesting stops at the Technology Museum, the main Auckland Museum and the Auckland Art Gallery.
Thursday January 21st: Auckland
We booked a ticket to go to Waiheke Island and have a wine tasting plus lunch at a local winery. It was a lovely day. The boat across to Waiheke, weaving through the islands, was enjoyable, the wine tasting was informative, lunch was good and we were then able to just sit in the winery garden enjoying a glass of the local produce and taking in the amazing view back to Auckland in the distance. Once we got some energy back, we walked for about a mile down to a local beach where we went for a swim. A great day.
Friday January 22nd: Auckland
Another boat journey. A shorted one this time to the suburb of Devonport. We walked around the coast to Cheltenham beach and spent a few hours there relaxing and swimming. This would be our last day in the sun for some time.
Saturday January 23rd
A long travel day. Auckland to Hong Kong. We had booked an apartment in Sheung Wan for 4 nights. On arrival at 9pm, we were delighted to see Sue and John, the apartment owners waiting for us. They drove us to the apartment, which saved a lot of hassle, and gave us the keys. It is a tiny, unpretentious flat in an unpretentious area, but it is home for the next four days.
Sunday January 24th
We met up with Nick and his partner who had been invited to lunch with friends on the island of Cheung Chau. We joined the group and had a fun lunch in a local beachside restaurant. The main talking point of today was that is was the coldest day in Hong Kong for 59 years. 3C and wet and windy. I won't say it was cold, but the waiting staff at the restaurant were all dressed in coats and woolly hats! It turned out that over 160 locals had been taken to hospital suffering from hypothermia. Certainly we were seriously cold by the time we returned to our apartment. Out weather during this trip had not been good, but today was by far the worst. We have not been lucky in that regard.