(Friday 28th October, 2016)
A delightful day with friends. Then dinner with our tour group before starting the cycling tomorrow. Some really lovely moments.
When your day starts like this…
We woke at 5.30am to so much birdsong! Incredible! Lovely tunes from all kinds of different birds…I was tempted to go straight out with my camera but it was pitch black so back to bed. This house that we stayed in! Beautiful and so interesting with travel momentos and clever architecture and different styles. We really loved it! A fabulous guest room for us with a Harry Potter cupboard (we didn’t have to sleep in it!), a day bed and great views over the extensive grounds with gorgeous gardens! Bliss!! After brekky I took my camera out into the garden and had a lovely wander around! A lovely blue sky, sunshine, warmth, a light breeze, stunning surrounds and birds I’ve never seen popping out of everywhere just made for perfection! Then the lady of the house took me on a bit of a guided tour and we had a lovely chat and the day just got better! Of course I always have an ear and an eye out for birds and I’m fascinated to see what birds they have here as compared to home. I already have found a thrush, a chaffinch, some different ducks and a tui that are native here and not found in Australia! Not a bad morning’s work I reckon. I’m very excited for the rest of the trip and the birds I’ll see. A trip into town was well worth it to see all of the 4 or more batches of ducklings just chilled out on the grass of the botanic gardens in Palmerston North at different stages of growth from just hatched to awkward molting teenagers. The aviary was interesting, the hothouse gorgeous, the esplanade walk really enjoyable and the river so pretty. A lovely jaunt.
Then a few groceries for lunch and hello what’s this? Instead of a whole bunch of self serve counters like Melbourne or Canberra, there’s someone to scan AND someone to pack the food! 2 per counter! “Home” for lunch, salmon cream cheese and asparagus rolls and a relaxed chat around the outdoor table; yum! Then goodbyes and on the road again back to Napier. Have I mentioned petrol prices? 176.9 for unleaded! Even talking into account the dollar difference that’s very expensive! We met our tour guide at the airport as we dropped off our rental car and she’s fantastic, already think she’s great. And meet LeRoy the spoodle who is very much part of the operation. Check in at the hotel, then off for a little explore on our bikes, 7km around the inlet before dinner just to get us going. A wonderful dinner at the hotel restaurant and meeting the other tour people then back to our room to go to bed. Oh yeah, our room: over the road from the beach so full ocean views through the huge windows and from the deck, queen bed, spa and just lovely all around! Luxury really: The Crown Hotel in Napier definitely gets our recommendation; also their restaurant Milk and Honey. And after a lovely 2 course meal, that’s just about us! See you tomorrow for the start of the bike tour proper.
(Thursday 27th October, 2016)
A traveling day today. We woke up early ish to drop off our car to the commercial car park and get our shuttle to the airport. We’d put in a time for when we wanted to go to the airport, but didn’t know it was a booking! So we got a hurry up call at 7.30am, but we were nearly ready to go by then so off we go! A slight hitch in the plans when we went to deconstruct hubby’s bike to pack it in the bike bag piece of luggage…the front wheel skewer had seized! Even when the lever was open and hubby was putting the force of one foot on it, it wouldn’t budge! Until it did but instead of opening, it tore off part of the metal casing!! Uh oh. Still stuck and now we’ve broken part of the bike! If we can’t get the wheel off and the bike packed down we can’t get it on the plane which creates quite a few problems! So we just put it in the shuttle with the wheels on and hope for a solution once we get to the airport! Thankfully after a phone call to a mate, some grease, some Googling, some tension and use of further force…the lever turned properly and we got the front wheel off! YAY. By this time I was feeling some serious time pressure to check in so we lined up for who knows how long only to find that our Virgin flight was being run by Air New Zealand! Can I just say? Christmas decs up already all over the place?? Too soon! The queue was tiny at Air New Zealand luckily so all good. And turns out I’d been allowing way more time than needed anyway so….time for breakfast! Just have to get through immigration, security and duty free! Security was irritating. Hubby got held up for a 110mL bottle of contact lens solution that was clearly nearly empty, but they binned it. Having had his case open to check through his stuff the security dude then picked it up and of course all his neatly folded and organised clothes fell on the floor! Seriously! He apologised 10 times but it’s was just annoying! Breakfast was weird. We were sipping our OJ and every other of the 7 tables were sipping beer or bubbly at 10am! Then the wait for a late plane and up in the air! 7 episodes of Season 9 of the Big Bang Theory and we were landing in Auckland. Highlight of the trip? Photochromic window! No shutters, but a button with several shades of dark to choose from. So cool! Love Air New Zealand! Of course our flight didn’t include a meal or cold drinks that we actually drink (cheap flights eh?) but luckily the airline throw in entertainment, otherwise I’m sure we wouldn’t have had that either!
My cool window darkened using a little button, compared to the usual window
Unfortunately as we were running late we didn’t get to appreciate Auckland airport. Pick up luggage, go through customs, WALK to domestic airport in the half drizzle (Melbourne, thank you for having international and domestic terminals in the same building, an escalator away!), and arrive with enough time to drop our luggage and walk on the teensy turboprop to Napier. No lunch but chocolate covered almonds from my trip to Junee will have to do! A really comfy ride for a small plane, I slept all the way apart from when they were handing out free fudge! Then touch down in Napier!! Pick up the rental car, get some dinner and head down to our friends for a night and day. I’m exhausted from all the not doing anything!