Tuesday to Thursday, 23 – 25 February, 2016 – Last day in the Cook Islands and Home

Tuesday – Thursday, 23 – 25  February 2016 – Last day in the Cook Islands and Home

Tuesday, 23 February 2016:  Went down for our usual delicious breakfast at the Shipwreck Bar.


We decided to go into Avarua for our last minute purchases and to post our postcards. We were “lured” once more into the Fudge shop.

We caught the 1.30pm bus back to our unit and had a late late lunch on our balcony as needed to use up our supplies. After we did our packing, went for our last swim and then it was just a lazy afternoon. It was nice and relaxing as we extended the room until 6.00pm that evening instead of the checkout at 10.00am.

After my last swim

After my last swim


Christine on our balcony

We and then it was just a lazy afternoon after we did our packing. It was nice and relaxing as we extended the room until 6.00pm that evening instead of the checkout at 10.00am. It was then down to the Shipwreck Bar for our last drink until we were picked up to take us to the Airport.

We weighed our cases – Chris’ weighed 18kgs and mine was 17kgs. Wish I could keep my luggage down to that all the time for future travelling overseas.  We went through Customs quite easily and had a little time before we boarded our Virgin Australia International Flight VA172 for our 4 hours and 30 minutes flight. We were in 25E and F seating so had the three seats to ourselves. Sometime into our flight we had about 20 minutes of really bad turbulence and again another session but then after that we had a smooth flight and landing into Auckland at 1.25am New Zealand time on Thursday 25 February as we crossed the International Date Line so “lost” a day.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

We filled in time until it was time for us to go into the International Departure Lounges. Christine went ahead as she was due to leave a half an hour before me so we said our goodbye in case we didn’t catch up with each other as I went and purchased a magazine.  I was once more “bomb tested” while going through Security. Chris and I did meet up again so we had another last coffee together before she went to Gate 10 for her departure. I then went downstairs to Gate 5 to board my Air New Zealand Flight NZ101 at 6.15am. to Sydney.


I had an aisle seat in Seat 29K (4 across). We took off at 7.00am for the 3.35hrs flight to Sydney. We settled back until breakfast of scrambled eggs, yoghurt and fruit were served. Was a very smooth flight and we arrived about 20 minutes early but had to circle around before we could be allocated a gate so virtually got in at our estimated time of 8.35am Sydney time.

I went through E-passport and then collected my luggage and through Customs no trouble. I then got on the 9.15am transit bus to the Domestic terminal. It was a nice sunny day.  I filled in some time before booking my case through to Canberra. After passing through Security, I went and had a nice croissant, coffee and Portuguese tart before boarding my final flight.

At 11.15am boarded my Virgin Flight VA642 – window seat 11F. This was a twin propellor ATR72-500/600 so was going to take almost an hour to arrive home. We taxiied off at 11.25am but had to wait for several planes ahead of us in the queue to take off. Once in the air, visibility was quite hazy.  It was a smooth flight and landed in Canberra at 12.35pm. Rob was there to meet me and it was home by 1.15pm to a warm 38 degree Canberra.

It was home to reality after two weeks of having a great time both with our activities in Melbourne and then our stay in magical Cook Islands with Christine. We thoroughly enjoyed The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, going up the Eureka Tower while in Melbourne and then having our many bus trips while on Rarotonga – seeing the beautiful colours of the lagoon, the lovely white soft sand, the majestic mountains, many gravesites, the palms and coconut trees swaying and the many beautiful colours of the different flowers and being greeted with the Kia Orana by the hospitable Cook Islanders – having our flight over to the “slice of Heaven”, the Island of Autitaki – swimming with the bigger fish and seeing the many many different coloured fish while snorkelling.

Was a super fortnight !!!!






Tuesday, 16 February 2016 – Leaving Melbourne for the Cook Islands via Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, 16 February 2016 – Leaving Melbourne for the Cook Islands via Auckland, New Zealand

Later in the afternoon, we retrieved our luggage from the Punthill Apartment and caught the 3.00pm Shuttle Bus to the Melbourne International Airport. We weighed our luggage and I was surprised that mine was 14 Kgs and Christine’s 17 Kgs. This was a record for me. With some assistance we printed off our boarding passes and luggage tags and then booked our luggage through to Rarotonga, Cook Islands. At 4.45pm we were at Security. I was requested to go into the cubicle and I “lit up” but evidently it was my watch.  Then I was “bomb checked” but of course was all clear there. We were through Security by 5.00pm so had time for a coffee and watched a TV program, “The Chase” until 6.00pm and then went to the nearby Gate 10 and our Air New Zealand Flight 126 was boarding. The plane was a 2x3x2 configuration. Chris and I were seated together in rows 29E and 29F. We departed at 6.40pm and the flight was going to be 3 hours and 40 minutes approximately. We settled down and waited for the meal to arrive as we were not sure whether we were going to receive any. When they were eventually served, there was only one meal being served to me. We were told that there had been a mix up with our booking but in the end we were both given a meal.

The flight was reasonably smooth for most of the way with just a small amount of turbulence.  We arrived in Auckland, New Zealand at approximately 12.20pm (New Zealand being 2 hours ahead of Australia). Kia Ora (Welcome) The queue to get through Customs and Security was horrendous as 6 planes were being processed at the same time. The queue was miles long and 4 wide. We finally got through and endeavoured to find somewhere to settle in as we  were not due to fly out until later that night. It was quite difficult to find somewhere immediately, but eventually found some vacant seats near the arrival area. I found 4 seats that I could spread out on and was pleased to be horizontal as standing in the queue for so long was playing its toll.

My "5 star" accommodation

My “5 star” accommodation !!!!!!

Christine was going to be stoic and stay awake. I stirred at 2.00am – couldn’t sleep with the activities going on in the airport. I layed down again until 4.00am when I went and bought us a cup of coffee.  At 5.00am the airport became even more busy as this was the time that more flights were coming and going. At 6.15am another coffee before we purchased tickets for the Sky Bus into Auckland City.  It was quite wet and very windy. We left at 7.35 and arrived at the Queen Street Wharf at 8.20am. We went into Valentiinos Gelato for a nice breakfast. Christine went quickly to the nearby Post Office to exchange some currency and then we purchased return ferry tickets for the 10.00am ferry to nearby Devonport.  At 10.30am we hopped on a mini bus for a detailed commentary by a Steve.  Our first stop was at Maunhgauika, North Head.


We went into an older underground tunnel that used to be a gunnery. It was nice to be out of the misty rain and wind. Once out of the tunnel, we had views over the harbour.

It was then up a very steep climb via Alexandra Road to the very windy Mt. Victoria a prominent hill 196 metres (643 ft) high. From here, Mount Victoria provides stunning 360 degree views of  City, the harbour and the ocean to the south


Just about blown back to Auckland !!!!

It was then down to Devonport village where our very interesting and informative commentary by Steve ended at 11.30pm.  As it was raining again, we went into a nice restaurant, Dixie Browns for Waffles and icecream and coffee.


We were told it was “Waffles Wednesday” and our photo was taken to go on their Facebook page. (Can’t find it). After the huge waffles, we caught the 12.45pm ferry back to Auckland and onto the 1.00pm Skybus to the Airport. We sat around for awhile until it was time to go through Security. It was easiest to use the E-passport facility but Christine’s didn’t work so got assistance. We passed through the International shops to Gate 5. Before we boarded, I noticed a Pandora shop and as Christine likes the product, she went and had a look – No, it wasn’t just a look. She came back smiling as she made a purchase to be added to her collection. It was now time to board our Virgin Australia Flight VA173 at 3.35 for the departure time of 1620 pm. The approximate flight time was 3 hours 55 minutes.

We had 3 seats to ourselves. We were not eligible for a meal on this leg so just had some cheese and biscuits. It was a very smooth flight and we arrived in Rarotonga, the capital of the Cook Islands  and is the largest of the 15 Cook Islands on Tuesday, 16 February 2016 at 9.15pm although we left New Zealand on Wednesday, 17 February 2016. This is due to crossing the International Date Line and Rarotonga is 23 hours behind Australia. All very confusing.


On entering the terminal, we were greeted with “Kia Orana” – This is the welcome and means “may you live long”. Very touching. A floral garland was placed around our necks as this is one of their customs.


We were happy to see that our luggage had also arrived and as we approached Customs, a man was playing on his ukelele. As the airport is quite small, we passed through Customs very easily and was greeted by Steve who drove us to our accommodation at the Aroa Beachside Inn on the western, leeward side of the island. It was upstairs and our number was “207 – Penrhyn” and right on the waterfront. All the accommodation was given the names of the 15 islands of the Cook Islands.


As we were extremely tired, we virtually went straight to bed.  We cannot believe that we are now in the Cook Islands.





My Visit to New Zealand – Monday, 22 December 2014 – Monday, 5 January 2015

Monday, 22 December, 2014  Robert picked me up and drove me to the airport to catch my Flight VA647, leaving at 1.05   to Sydney.  It was quite a rough flight.  Arrived at 2.05. Boarded the transit  bus to the International Airport.  After the usual exit requirements, I boarded Flight VA7418, leaving at 3.45 to Auckland, New Zealand.  That flight was very good and touched down on time at 8.50pm. Mary and Edward were there to pick me up and drove me to their place in Pakuranga and we went to bed as it was a long day.

New Zealand consists of three main islands in the south Pacific – North, South and Stewart Islands covering an area of approximately 268,000 square kilometres and having a population of over 4 million of mainly Maori, European and Polynesion  blood.  For all its small size, New Zealand is a land full of contrasting scenic beauty which makes it unique in the world. High mountains, low plains, fiords, forests, glaciers and roaring rivers abound most within a short distance of the towns and cities. As New Zealanders say – it is “God’s Own Country”.

The next morning, Tuesday, 23 December, 2014 Mary and I had a leisurely walk down to and along the estuary of the Tamaki River.


After lunch, Mary  and I went up to the village of Howick.

HOWICK is an eastern suburb of AucklandNew Zealand, forming part of what is sometimes called East Auckland. Due to the relatively numerous remaining heritage buildings and other historical remnants from its early European settlement past, it has been called “perhaps Auckland’s most historically conscious place”.

Maori origins

The local iwi (Māori tribe) was the Ngai Tai people of Tainui descent. They had lived there for around 300 years with pa (fortified villages) at Ohuia Rangi (Pigeon Mountain), Te Waiarohia (Musick Point) and Tuwakamana (Cockle Bay).

Fencible settlement

The Howick, Pakuranga, and Whitford areas were part of the Fairburn claim. William Thomas Fairburn, with his wife and family, established a Church Missionary Society Mission Station at Maraetai in 1836. The local Māori insisted they buy the 40,000 acres (162 km²) between the Tamaki and Wairoa Rivers to prevent attack by the Ngapuhi and Waikato tribes. As an act of Christian peacemaking, Fairburn reluctantly bought the land with his life savings.

In 1840, following the Treaty of Waitangi, the Government took 36,000 acres (146 km²) which it used for the Fencible settlements of Otahuhu and Howick and sold most of the remaining land to settlers, as well as paying Māori and returning most of the Wairoa Valley to them.  Howick itself is named after Henry George Grey, 3rd Earl Grey as Viscount Howick, who was Secretary for the Colonies in the British Parliament and was responsible for the Royal New Zealand Fencible Corps immigration scheme. The suburb was therefore established in 1847 as a fencible settlement, where soldiers were given land with the implied understanding that in wartime, they would be raised as units to defend it (however, the eventual fighting a decade later used professional soldiers instead). A relatively large amount of the early features from this time have been retained.  ‘Fencible’ is derived from the word ‘Defencible’, meaning capable of defence.

The Māori welcomed the Fencibles to Howick and recognised the advantages of co-operation and trade Maori labourers built the Fencibles cottages under Royal Engineers supervision – though it was also noted that initially, the Europeans had to live in raupo huts, having been falsely promised that houses would already been available for them and their families, There were about 250 Fencibles in Howick. Local Maori had been taught to read and write by the Fairburn LMS missionaries at Maraetai. The fencibles and their families were poor with no capital apart from a small number of officers. About half were Catholic and half Protestant. Quite a few of the adults were illiterate. 101 Howick fencibles served with their sons in the 1860s Land Wars. Howick’s links to Auckland’s pioneering and Fencible past has influenced its development and is also evident in the names of many streets. Others are significantly named for British military heroes or battles. Bleakhouse (as in Bleakhouse Rd) was the name given to a Fencible officer’s house built in Bleakhouse Rd for Surgeon-Captain John Bacot who became a magistrate in Howick. Later, in the hands of the Macleans family it became the heart of the social scene in the 1850s and ’60s. The house was burnt down in 1910 but gave its name to the street.

Other roads such as Bacot, Bell, Fencible Drive, Montressor Place and Sale St, plus many others, also have Fencible links, e.g. Sir Robert Sale was one of the ships which brought the Fencibles to Auckland in the 19th century. Montressor Place was named for Captain Charles Henry Montressor-Smith who arrived in Howick with the First Battalion of Fencibles in 1847. He later moved to a property in neighbouring Pakuranga, where his house, known as Bell House, still stands at the end of Bell Rd next to the Howick Historical Village.  Moore St was named after General Sir John Moore, a British military hero, who lived from 1761-1809. General Moore fought against Napoleon alongside Sir David Baird for whom Baird St was named and he (Moore) died at Corunna during the Peninsular War whilst serving under the Duke of Wellington. At Corunna he was attended by Dr J. Bacot, father of the Howick Fencible doctor, who lived in Bleakhouse.  Moore St was part of the original Fencible village and was sub-divided into one acre (4,000 m²) allotments down to Rodney St. People will, no doubt, recognise that Wellington and Nelson Sts spring from the most famous of British war heroes, Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington and that Selwyn St takes its name from the first Bishop of New ZealandGeorge Augustus Selwyn.

Then there are streets such as Granger Rd named for John Granger, manager of the brick works, which once stood at Little Bucklands Beach near the rock outcrop where the Bucklands Beach Centre board clubrooms now stands, before moving to Whitford. Litten Rd and John Gill Rd are named after former farmer and landowner families. Irishman John Gill settled in Howick in the 1850s, and his family farmed the land that is now Cockle Bay and Shelly Park. Litten Road is the boundary of the one of the old Gill-Litten farms.

To the north of Picton Street, the main street of Howick, is Stockade Hill. In 1863 a field work was constructed on what is now called Stockade Hill, for the purpose of defending Auckland from hostile Māoris who might advance overland from the south, or by canoes from the Firth of Thames. The ditches of the stockade can still be seen today. In the centre is a war memorial were services are held each ANZAC Day. The top of Stockade Hill provides uninterrupted views in all directions.

Growth into town

Settlement in Howick centred around the domain, and the village developed as a service centre for the prosperous farming community. Later the centre of Howick shifted to Picton Street which is now the centre. It later became popular as a retirement and seaside holiday location. In 1865 Howick became a road board district; in 1922 it was created an independent town district; and on 1 February 1952 it was constituted a borough with Elections for Mayor and Council being held on 22 March 1952.  The 1930s saw the construction of a concrete all weather road running all the way from Howick through Pakuranga toPanmure. This allowed the rapid passage of people and goods to and from Auckland. This concrete road can still be seen, in parts, on the highway between Howick and Pakuranga.

Enveloped by suburbia

From the late 1940s to the 1970s the Howick area experienced rapid growth, when in 1947, at its centenary, it had still been a town of only 1,500. Up until the 1980s Howick was surrounded on all sides by farmland, but as Auckland grew and new subdivisions were created Howick was consumed by urban sprawl.

In 1990 the re-organisation of local body government in New Zealand saw Howick become a ward within Manukau City, with its Borough Council being replaced by a Community Board and Councillor representation, a move that was unpopular with the inhabitants of Howick, who feared the loss of identity and having to subsidise the poorer areas of Manukau City. Today Howick is one of the more affluent seaside suburbs of the former Manukau City (now merged with Auckland). It has some of the oldest buildings in the Auckland area, as well as the first parish church in Auckland (All Saints Church).

In July 2008 the community radio station, Howick Village Radio, was established on 88.1 FM and is broadcast over most of the eastern suburb as well as streaming online from their website. They have a variety of shows including some hosted by students from local schools.

Howick electorate

From 1993 and prior to the introduction of MMP in 1996, Howick had its own seat in Parliament, Howick; which had been created from part of the former Otara electorate.  In the 1996 general election, due to the need to decrease the number of general electorates in order to ensure a sufficient number of seats were available for list MPs, the population centres formerly in the Howick seat were merged into the former separate seat of Pakuranga.

While making recommendations for the boundaries to apply in the 2008 general election, the Electoral Commission recently proposed to resurrect the Howick seat. The planned seat would have taken in the population centres of Howick and Botany DownsDannemora but would have had the effect of splitting Bucklands Beach and Highland Park across two electorates. Due to this, and the planned move to incorporate PanmurePoint England and Glen Innes into the neighbouringPakuranga seat, the Commission received a significant number of objections from Pakuranga residents. The Commission eventually adopted the recommendation of Objector N17/30 in keeping the Howick suburb in Pakuranga and renaming the new seat Botany, with a corresponding shift in centre of gravity to the new suburb of Flat Bush.

Sport and recreation

Howick is home to Fencibles United association football club, who compete in the Lotto Sport Italia NRFL Division 2, and the Howick Hornets rugby league club, who compete in Auckland Rugby League‘s top division, the Fox Memorial.

On Wednesday, 24 December, 2014 it was a relaxation day and I had a great massage. Next day (Christmas Day) we visited Edward’s and Mary’s relations.

  In the evening Mary, Edward and I went to the Hotel Langham for a superb meal. It was smorgasbord style – just so many dishes to choose from. Santie made his way through the restaurant. After we decided we had eaten far too much we came home – A very enjoyable outing courtesy of Edward.

IMG_0513The next few days (Friday – Sunday, 26-28 December 2014) were spent just taking things easy – chatting, knitting, uploading photos, a walk down to the estuary once again and a drive to the nearby  Half Moon Bay Marina.


That night, Edward had an emergency to attend to as at his tenanted apartment, there was a small fire in the grounds. The fire brigade was called but fortunately no great damage done to any folk or buildings.

On Monday, 29 December 2014  Mary and I set off for Whangarei, approximately 160 kilometres, to see Mary’s son and family.  We stopped at Warkworth for a short break and wander down by the river. Quite a nice little town.

We arrived in Whangarei about 11.30

Whangarei (/ˌfɒŋəˈr/; Māori: [faŋaˈɾɛi]) is the northernmost city in New Zealand and the regional capital of Northland Regionew Zealand and the regional capital of Northland Region. It is part of the Whangarei District, a local body created in 1989 to administer both the city proper and its hinterland. The district was created from the former Whangarei City, Whangarei County and Hikurangi Town councils. The city population was estimated to be 54,400 at the June 2014 estimate, up from 47,000 in 2001. The wider Whangarei area had an estimated population of 80,800 in 2011.

The Whangarei urban area has several suburbs: Kamo, Springs Flat, Tikipunga, Three Mile Bush, Otangarei, Mairtown, Regent, Kensington, and Whau Valley lie to the north of the city. South and west of the town centre areMorningsideRaumangaMaunu, Horahora, Woodhill, Vinetown, and the Avenues, and to the east are Riverside, Sherwood Rise, Onerahi, and Parihaka.

History    Captain James Cook and the crew of the Endeavour were the first Europeans to contemplate the Whangarei Harbour entrance. On 15 November 1769 they caught about one hundred fish there which they classified as “bream” (probably snapper) prompting Cook to name the area Bream Bay.

The Māori iwi Ngāpuhi occupied Whangarei from the early 19th century, and the Te Parawhau hapū lived at the head of the harbour. In the 1820s the area was repeatedly attacked by Waikato and Ngāti Paoa raiders during theMusket Wars.

The first European settler was William Carruth, a Scotsman and trader who arrived in 1839 and was joined, six years later, by Gilbert Mair and his family. For the most part, relations between the settlers and local Māori were friendly, but in February 1842, all settler farms were plundered in revenge for transgressions of tapu. In April 1845, during the Flagstaff War, all settlers fled from Whangarei.  Most of the original settlers never returned, but by the mid-1850s there were a number of farmers and orchardists in the area. From 1855, a small town developed, driven by the kauri gum trade. Today’s ‘Town Basin’ on the Hātea River was the original port and early exports included kauri gum and native timber followed later by coal from Whau ValleyKamo, and Hikurangi. Coal from the Kiripaka field was exported via the Ngunguru River. By 1864, the nucleus of the present city was established.

Fire bricks made from fire clay deposits near the Kamo mines supported a brick works over several decades. Good quality limestone was quarried at Hikurangi, Portland, and Limestone Island, and initially sold as agricultural lime and later combined with local coal to produce Portland cement at the settlement of Portlandon the south side of the harbour. Local limestone is still used in cement manufacture but the coal is now imported from the West Coast of the South Island.

Whangarei was the most urbanised area in Northland towards the end of the 19th century, but grew slowly in the 20th century.  The district slowly exhausted most of its natural resources but was sustained by agriculture, especially dairying. Shipping was the main transport link until the North Auckland railway line reached the town in 1925, and the road from Auckland was not suitable for travel in poor weather until 1934.  These terrestrial travel routes forced a rapid decline in coastal shipping but stimulated Whangarei to become the service centre for Northland. The population was 14,000 in 1945, but grew rapidly in the 1960s, incorporatingKamo and other outlying areas.  In 1964, Whangarei was declared a city. Its population the following year was 31,000.

The second half of the twentieth century brought the establishment and expansion of the oil refinery at Marsden Point on Bream Bay, the adjacent development of timber processing and the establishment of Northland Port, which is mainly focused on timber exporting. A container port could follow, linked by rail to Auckland. The extensive flat undeveloped land around Northport is a suggested solution to excess population growth in Auckland and the associated lack of industrial land.

Before booking into our accommodation at the Marina Court Motel, we decided to have lunch down at the Town Basin situated at the head of Whangarei Harbour adjacent to the boat marina.  The Town Basin features boutique shops, cafes and Clapham’s Clock Museum. We then caught up with Jade and two of her children, Julian and Millie and visited the Fern Conservatory.  Was lovely there and so many different ferns, cacti and flowers.  In the streets were lots of jacaranda and pohutakawa trees with their contrasting colours of purple and red.  Very stunning.

That night, Sam and William came and we had a barbeque on the premises of the Marina Court Motel where Mary and I were staying. Julian stayed with us that night as a treat.

Tuesday, 30 December, 2014 we all drove out to the nearby coastal beaches of NGUNGARU and KAUAKARANGI. At the latter, some of us had a wade in the water. The children thought this was a lot of fun – even two adults, Sam and me!  After our time at the beach we drove back to Whangarei.

In the afternoon, I went up to the Town Basin again and called into the Clapham’s Clock Museum.  There were certainly many clocks of all descriptions.  I then spent quite a little time in the Glassworks watching a Keith Grinter working at his glassmaking.   He is quite a talented man.

After wandering around and into the different shops, I headed over the Canopy Bridge, passed the Marina with its many hundreds of yatchs and along the Hatea Loop (Huarahi o te Whai) alongside the Whangarei Harbour to the Motel.  Was a lovely afternoon.

We watched the Te Matau Pohe or The Fishhook of Pohe Bridge open that crosses the Hatea River to allow two tall masted yatchs pass under.  Is an interesting piece of engineering.image

That evening, after Sam and kids had a little siesta time, we all went to the Shiraz Indian Restaurant for dinner. It was William’s turn to sleep with Grandma that night.

Next morning (Tuesday, 30 December, 2014) we were up quite early.  After breakfast, William and his grandma were having a last game of chess.  Even though William will be 5 in February he is picking up the game quite well.  Julian, who will be 8 in August,  has quite a grasp of the game.  The rest of the family came to the Marina Court Motel and we had our last chats before Mary and I started our journey back to Auckland after a lovely and interesting two days.  I like Whangarei City very much.



imageWe called into the township before heading out of Whangarei – via Waipu and the Brynderwyn Hills until a stop at the Kauwaka Bakery for a nice pie and cake.  Headed off again through Wellsworth to Warkworth for another short stop and then it was home at 2.30 to Edward after a very good run. Was a lovely two days and nice for Mary to see the family.

The Auckland urban area (/ˈɔːklənd/awk-lənd), in the North Island of New Zealand, is the largest and most populous urban area in the country. Auckland has a population of 1,413,700, which constitutes 31 percent of the country’s population.  It is part of the wider Auckland Region, which includes the rural areas and towns north and south of the urban area, plus the islands of the Hauraki Gulf, resulting in a total population of 1,527,100[3] that is governed by the Auckland Council. Auckland also has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world.  In Māori, Auckland’s name is Tāmaki Makaurau and the transliterated version of Auckland is Ākarana.

The Auckland urban area (as defined by Statistics New Zealand) ranges to Waiwera in the north, Kumeu in the northwest, and Runciman in the south. It is not contiguous; the section from Waiwera to Whangaparaoa Peninsula is separate from its nearest neighbouring suburb of Long Bay. Auckland lies between the Hauraki Gulf of the Pacific Ocean to the east, the low Hunua Ranges to the south-east, the Manukau Harbour to the south-west, and the Waitakere Ranges and smaller ranges to the west and north-west. The central part of the urban area occupies a narrow isthmus between the Manukau Harbour on the Tasman Sea and theWaitemata Harbour on the Pacific Ocean. It is one of the few cities in the world to have two harbours on two separate major bodies of water.

Early history

The isthmus was settled by Māori around 1350, and was valued for its rich and fertile land. Many  (fortified villages) were created, mainly on the volcanic peaks. Māori population in the area is estimated to have been about 20,000 people before the arrival of Europeans.  The subsequent introduction of firearms, which began in Northland, upset the balance of power and led to devastating inter-tribal warfare, causing iwi who lacked the new weapons to seek refuge in areas less exposed to coastal raids. As a result the region had relatively low numbers of Māori when European settlement of New Zealand began. There is, however, nothing to suggest that this was the result of a deliberate European policy.  On 27 January 1832, Joseph Brooks Weller, eldest of the Weller brothers of Otago and Sydney bought land including the sites of the modern cities of Auckland and North Shore and part of Rodney District for “one large cask of powder” from “Cohi Rangatira”.

After the signing of the Treaty of  Waitangi  in February 1840 the new  Governor of New Zealand, William Hobson, chose the area as his new capital and named it after George Eden, Earl of Auckland then Viceroy of India. The land that Auckland was established on was given to the Governor by local Maori iwi Ngāti Whātua as a sign of goodwill and in the hope that the building of a city would attract commercial and political opportunities for the iwi. Auckland was officially declared New Zealand’s capital in 1841 and the transfer of the administration from Russell (now Old Russell) in the Bay of Islands was completed in 1842. However, even in 1840 Port Nicholson (later Wellington) was seen as a better choice for an administrative capital because of its proximity to the South Island, and Wellington became the capital in 1865. After losing its status as capital Auckland remained the principal city of the Auckland Province until the provincial system was abolished in 1876.

In response to the ongoing rebellion by Hone Heke in the mid-1840s  the government encouraged retired but fit British soldiers and their families to migrate to Auckland to form a defence line around the port settlement as garrison soldiers. By the time the first   Fencibles in 1848 the rebels in the north had been defeated so the outlying defensive towns were constructed to the south stretching in a line from the port village of  Onehunga  in the West to  Howick in the east. Each of the  four settlements had about 800 settlers, the men being fully armed in case of emergency but spent nearly all their time breaking in the land and establishing roads.

In the early 1860s Auckland became a base  against the Māori King Movement. This, and  continued road building towards the south into the Waikato, enabled Pākehā (European New Zealanders) influence to spread from Auckland. Its population grew fairly rapidly, from 1,500 in 1841 to 12,423 by 1864. The growth occurred similarly to other mercantile-dominated cities, mainly around the port and with problems of overcrowding and pollution. Auckland had a far greater population of ex soldiers, many of whom were Irish, than other settlements. About 50% of the population was Irish which contrasted heavily with the majority English settlers in Wellington, Christchurch or New Plymouth. Most of the Irish, though not all, were from Protestant Ulster. The majority of settlers in the early period were assisted by receiving a cheap passage to NZ.

Modern history

Trams and railway lines shaped Auckland’s rapid expansion in the early first half of the 20th century, but soon afterward the dominance of the motor vehicle emerged and has not abated since; arterial roads and motorways have become both defining and geographically dividing features of the urban landscape. They also allowed further massive expansion that resulted in the growth of associated urban areas like the North Shore(especially after the construction of the Auckland Harbour Bridge), and Manukau City in the south. According to the 1961 census data, Māori and Pacific Islanders composed 5% of Auckland’s population; Asians less than 1%. Economic deregulation in the mid-1980s led to dramatic changes to Auckland’s economy and many companies relocated their head offices from Wellington to Auckland. The region was now the nerve centre of the national economy. Auckland also benefited from a surge in tourism, which brought 75% of New Zealand’s international visitors through its airport. In 2004, Auckland’s port handled 43% of the country’s container trade.

The face of urban Auckland changed when the government’s immigration policy began allowing immigrants from Asia in 1986. By 2006 the Asian population had reached 18.0% in Auckland, and 36.2% in the central city. New arrivals from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea gave a distinctive character to the areas where they clustered, while a range of other immigrants introduced mosques, temples, halal butchers and ethnic restaurants to the suburbs. The assertiveness of Pacific Island street culture and the increasing political clout of ethnic groups contributes to the city’s multicultural vitality.



Auckland straddles the Auckland volcanic field, which has produced about 90 volcanic eruptions from 50 volcanoes in the last 90,000 years. It is the only city in the world built on a basaltic volcanic field that is still active. It is estimated that the field will stay active for about 1 million years. Surface features include cones, lakes, lagoons, islands and depressions, and several have produced extensive lava flows. Some of the cones and flows have been partly or completely quarried away. The individual volcanoes are all considered extinct, although the volcanic field itself is merely dormant. The trend is for the latest eruptions to occur in the north west of the field. Auckland has at least 14 large lava tube caves which run from the volcanoes down towards the sea. Some are several kilometres long. A new suburb, Stonefields, has been built in an excavated lava flow, north west of Maungarei / Mount Wellington, that was previously used as a quarry by Winstones.

Auckland’s volcanoes are fuelled entirely by basaltic magma, unlike the explosive subduction-driven volcanism in the central North Island, such as at Mount Ruapehu and Lake Taupo which are of tectonic origin. The most recent and by far the largest volcano, Rangitoto Island, was formed within the last 1000 years, and its eruptions destroyed the Māori settlements on neighbouring Motutapu Island some 700 years ago. Rangitoto’s size, its symmetry, its position guarding the entrance to Waitemata Harbour and its visibility from many parts of the Auckland region make it Auckland’s most iconic natural feature. Few birds and insects inhabit the island because of the rich acidic soil and the type of flora growing out of the rocky soil.

Harbours, gulf and rivers

Auckland lies on and around an isthmus, less than two kilometres wide at its narrowest point, between Mangere Inlet and the Tamaki River. There are two harbours in the Auckland urban area surrounding this isthmus: Waitemata Harbour to the north, which opens east to the Hauraki Gulf, and Manukau Harbour to the south, which opens west to the Tasman Sea. The total coastline of Auckland is 3,702 km in length.

Bridges span parts of both harbours, notably the Auckland Harbour Bridge crossing the Waitemata Harbour west of theAuckland Central Business District (CBD). The Mangere Bridge and the Upper Harbour Bridge span the upper reaches of the Manukau and Waitemata Harbours, respectively. In earlier times, portage paths crossed the narrowest sections of the isthmus.

Several islands of the Hauraki Gulf are administered as part of Auckland, though they are not part of the Auckland metropolitan area. Parts of Waiheke Island effectively function as Auckland suburbs, while various smaller islands near Auckland are mostly zoned ‘recreational open space’ or are nature sanctuaries.

Auckland also has a total length of approximately 21,000 km of rivers and streams, about 8% of these in urban areas.

Although it was New Year’s Eve, we were all too tired by 11.00pm to stay up to see 2015 in.  There were lots of firecrackers being lit off but none of us decided to stay up.  First time for several years that I have not sat up to see the new year in.


Thursday, 1 January, 2015.  Although it rained during the night, this morning was a nice sunny day so after breakfast we went to the Fo Guang Shan Temple which is a large temple and community centre of the Fang Guang Shan Buddhist movement in the East Tamaki/Flatbush suburb of Auckland, New Zealand.  It is the largest Buddhist temple in the country. The temple and complex were built over seven years at a cost NZ$ 20 million.  It was designed in the architectural style of the Tang Dynasty. The temple also includes a large Buddha statue and a two-tonne bell.image

Opened in late 2007, the mission of the new temple is to promote Humanistic Buddhism, but it is also intended to benefit (and is open to) non-Buddhists, “through education and teaching people how to lead good lives.” Even before its official opening, the temple had provided community courses such as Chinese calligraphy, Chinese language, yoga and martial arts, as well as providing a venue for crime prevention talks and meetings

Original Architect for this Temple complex is Ron Seeto Murray Cockburn Partnership Auckland – after visiting Nan Tien Temple in Woolongong Ron  Seeto successfully obtained  client agreement to model their desire for a traditional Chinese temple style for the original temple and community centre buildings on the authenticity of form and structure found in the heroic buildings of the first Tang dynasty.

We had a nice  laksa  lunch before we wandered   around the grounds.  We went into one of the  buldings where a monk spoke to us and telling us some of their teachings. She was very interesting to listen to.  We then made our wishes at the wishing bell. It was a very calming place.  We then ventured home after another enjoyable outing with Mary and Edward.  After our dinner we listened to some music before going to bed at a reasonable hour.image


Friday, 2 January, 2014.  Another beautiful day so after breakfast, Edward drove Mary and I into Auckland City to catch a ferry service which leaves from the Queens Wharf  across the Waitemata Harbour to Devonport.  Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city and the main entry point for overseas visitors.  The cruise liner, the “Dawn Princess” was moored in the Harbour.

As you leave the Marina, you get a great view of the skyline of the city and see the Sky Tower which is 328 metres high.  It is only a short trip over to Devonport  which is a harbourside suburb of Auckland, New Zealand. It is located on the North Shore, at the southern end of a peninsula that runs southeast from near Lake Pupuke in Takapuna, forming the northern side of the Waitemata Harbour. East of Devonport  lies North Head, the promontory guarding the mouth of the harbour.



imageThe suburb hosts the Devonport Naval Base of the Royal New Zealand Navy, the main facility for the country’s naval vessels, but is best known for its harbourside dining and drinking establishments and its heritage charm. In its scenery and setting, Devonport has been compared to Sausalito, California.

In 2011 the Devonport community, led by parents and local publication the Devonport Flagstaff, launched a grassroots movement protesting the sale of the synthetic cannabis Kronic in local dairies. The battle was a success, and Kronic was banned from the area.

The Devonport shops contain a fair  array of antiques, gift & book shops as well a number of good cafes and restaurants making it a popular destination for tourists and Aucklanders. We wandered into some of these shops before joining Edward who drove over to meet us for a coffee.

After that, we drove up to Mount Victoria, locally abbreviated to Mt. Vic, which is a prominent hill (height 196 metres) to the east of the centre of Wellington, New Zealand, and its associated suburb.  Mount Victoria’s original Māori name is Tangi Te Keo.   The weather was perfect and the views of Auckland and the surrounds were brilliant. 


imageOnce again a great day.

Saturday, 3 January, 2015  Another lovely day. Mary and I had a long day at Sylvia Park  which is the largest  business park and shopping centre in the Auckland suburb of Mount Wellington, in New Zealand.  Less commonly known, the area around the centre (which includes some residential and other commercial developments) is also called Sylvia Park (the centre takes its name from the area, not vice versa, but Sylvia Park is not officially a suburb). The area is located adjacent to two major interchanges of the Auckland Southern Motorway – the South-Eastern Highway (which passes directly through the shopping centre on a viaduct) and Mount Wellington Highway.



Sunday, 4 January, 2014    We had a short stop down at the Half Moon Bay Marina again for a coffee and home for lunch.



After lunch, we took a drive out on the Pacific Coast Highway to MARAETAI for me to see where Mary’s daughter, Ami, Ken,  Maddison and Hannah live.  They were not home as boating at the Great Mercury Island which is in the South Pacific off the Coromandel Coast.  They have been away for several days having a fabulous time – canoeing, fishing and swimming with several other boating families.  They live in a fabulous spot with views out to Waiheki Island and to the skyline of the city of Auckland.  What a place to live!


We drove along the promenade before we returned home to Pakuranga.

IMG_1140This is Mary showing off the parasol I gave her – Mary likes her parasols!

Sadly, this is my last night in Auckland!  Have to be up early in the morning so had better go to bed.

Monday, 5 January 2015   Up at 4.45 this morning to be driven by Mary out to the Auckland Airport to catch my Fight VA146.  Said goodbye to Edward and Mary and I set off.  When we got to the airport, booked by “light” case of only 21 kgs and then we had our last cuppa together before saying goodbye to each other.  Went through Security and headed to the gate and boarded the plane at 7.30 to depart at 8.00.  It was a very smooth flight.  The time went quickly as I watched a movie.  We arrived in Sydney a half an hour early but had to wait a short time until we were allocated a new bay.  Went through Security and headed to the gate and boarded the plane at 7.30 to depart at 8.00.  It was a very smooth flight and arrived in Sydney a half hour early but had to wait a bit to get a bay to park the plane.  We eventually landed and then it was to collect my case and go through Customs which was easy and then booked the case through to the domestic terminal.  I then caught the transit bus over to the domestic terminal.  Had a bit of time to fill in as the plane that I was scheduled on was cancelled and I was booked on one  was now an hour later.  Made a call to Trish who was going to pick me up to let her know about the change.  It was then time to board my Flight VA646 at 12.05 to leave at 12.35.  This time the flight was smoother than when I went up to Sydney.  Arrived a quarter of an hour early.  Collected my case and then was met by Trish and Wendy.  We went and had a cup of coffee and had a chat to catch up on things before we went home.

Now it is back to reality.  It has been a wonderful holiday.  Mary and Edward were super.  The weather certainly was glorious. It was great to see Victoria and her children and to meet her husband.  Also, to see Sam again since the time he was two and to meet his wife Jade and their three children.  Just sorry I didn’t get to see Ami and her family. They had sailed on their launch to the Mercury Islands – were having a great time fishing, canoeing and swimming – so extended their return trip home by a day.

Auckland is certainly a beautiful place with all its diversity – islands, rivers, flora and fauna and the peaks surrounding the city.  I hope I will be able to have another trip over some time in the future.  Thankyou Mary and Edward for a great time.

End of another holiday.