The Secret Diary of Adrian Petford Aged 39¾

Auckland – back in the City of Sails

Posted in Uncategorized by Adrian Petford on August 8th, 2009

I have had a brilliant week back in Auckland, the place I regard as my second home. The weather has been amazing; sunny and largely cloudless every day. I’ve been so lucky. You wouldn’t believe it’s winter, apart from the fact it’s colder than normal. On Thursday it was so hot I had to roll up my sleeves and wished I’d brought a hat to shield me from the sun! I know I’ve had it easy and I’m sure I’ll get a rude awakening, weather wise, down in the South Island next week, but it couldn’t have worked out better so far.

Sky Tower, Auckland city – 04-Aug-2009
Sky Tower, Auckland city – 04-Aug-2009

On Tuesday I spent most of the day wandering around the city centre, and shopping. There’s so much to do on Queen Street, Auckland’s main drag. I had lunch with Steve in the IMAX centre’s food court and stocked up on some local DVDs and CDs courtesy of Marbecks, my favourite record shop here. Had a walk along Harbourside, the marina and the former Americas Cup village. Not much has changed in the city; the odd new or altered building here and there but otherwise it’s all very comfortable and familiar ground. It’s nice to be back.

Later on Tuesday I went over to Steve and Cherie’s for dinner and was quickly commandeered for bedtime story duty in Steve’s absence! It was a lovely moment, I really enjoyed it. Chevelle was laughing and giggling all the time. I often can’t tell what she’s saying and just laugh along with her which just makes her giggle more. She’s full of energy even before bedtime! Apparently she loved the story. Phew!

Over dinner they both recommended I stop in Oamaru rather than Timaru as there’s much more interesting stuff to see in Oamaru, including a penguin colony, just the sort of thing I like. It’s also a good base for starting the trip to the lakes. I like this idea and think I might rethink my plans so I can do it.

I drove down to Huia on Wednesday. This is very close to where I am based but, surprisingly, I’ve never been there before. There were stunning views from the lookout at Huia Point, of Huia itself, Manukau harbour and out to the Manukau heads. I also spent some time in Little Huia which is a beautiful, relaxed and peaceful spot.

View from Huia Point – 05-Aug-2009
View from Huia Point – 05-Aug-2009
View from Huia Point – 05-Aug-2009
View from Huia Point – 05-Aug-2009
View from Huia Point – 05-Aug-2009
View from Huia Point – 05-Aug-2009
View from Huia Point – 05-Aug-2009
View from Huia Point – 05-Aug-2009
View from Huia Point – 05-Aug-2009
View from Huia Point – 05-Aug-2009
View from Huia Point – 05-Aug-2009
View from Huia Point – 05-Aug-2009

I enjoyed a fun lunch with Cherie and Chevelle on Thursday where we had the famous Kiwi delicacy of “fush and chups”! This is a treat in between Chevelle’s swimming class in the morning and kindergarten in the afternoon so it was nice to be part of it this time. I ended up staying for the afternoon so was there to pick up Chevelle from kindy as well which was fun to see. My work colleagues might be envious to hear that there are only twenty kids in the kindergarten shared between four teachers! Chevelle was still bouncing around full of energy. Usually Cherie walks back home to wear her out but this time we were in the car – “hmmm, looks like it should’ve been a walking day”, she said!

Back home I read Chevelle some poems from her book, including a new one she’d stuck in today which was great fun and then it was out to play! She started on her trampoline and bounced up and down like crazy! I got some really funny pictures. After that hour, I’m now an expert in throw and catch, spinning around in a circle as fast as I can, shooting a miniature basketball hoop, running along behind a bike (with stabilisers) and balancing a ball on my head. I was exhausted but it was fantastic fun! Chevelle’s a great little girl. Hopefully I’d worn her out enough for Steve and Cherie to get a peaceful night!

ZK-LAT at Ardmore Airport – 07-Aug-2009
ZK-LAT at Ardmore Airport – 07-Aug-2009

I had a great day out with Chris on Friday. We went to Ardmore Airport first to have a look around. This is a busy general aviation airfield so there is lots to see. Chris told me of his exploits at engineering school here many years ago. They used to build all sorts of fantastical contraptions just to pass the time, that’s when they weren’t chatting up the trainee teachers at the teaching college that was also here! We parked up by the runway and watched quite a few take offs and landings, some better than others as the student pilots were obviously out practising!

Then it was off to Hunua Falls which is always a nice run through the Hunua ranges. The falls were fuller than I’d ever seen them and the pool was noticeably higher. We went down to the bottom to take some photos and Chris, in typical Chris style, charged off climbing up the rocks to get photos from the far side. I preferred to stick to the proper walking tracks that are within my capabilities. We went to the lower lookout and then to a track marked “No Access to Waterfall”. This must be the unacknowledged “abseil track” – yes, people do abseil down the side of the falls! I quickly saw it would be too much for me to climb but Chris set off with the intention of going all the way up. I returned to the lower lookout and waited for any sightings of him at the top of the falls!

Hunua Falls – 07-Aug-2009
Hunua Falls – 07-Aug-2009

I wondered whether or not to do the upper lookout track, but ended up sitting in the lower lookout. It was good to spend some time just relaxing and enjoying this beautiful place. Although there were no signs of Chris at the top of the falls (I found out later he had gone up but didn’t want to risk going past all the fences and warning signs) but we met later by the pool. I gingerly made my way over to the far side from the lower lookout steps (it involved climbing down some high rocks which was a bit hairy) and took some great photos from this close, unusual angle underneath the falls.

After a lunch stop at a rustic wooden building amusingly called a “supermarket” – it’s the only shop for about ten miles – we headed back via Clevedon village and the east coast. We saw the Firth of Thames and the Coromandel in the distance and later Waiheke Island while going through Maraetai. We stopped off at Murphy’s Bush for a quick look around. This is typical of the unusual natural sights you can find in New Zealand – a small area of undisturbed bush, with a cleared section in the middle but right by the main roads. Inside you really feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere and the bush must go on for miles, the effect is uncanny. Once finished here, we drove back towards the city. It’s always good to go out with Chris as he takes you on very unusual routes and this was no exception.

This week has been really good – totally packed with varied activities. It’s been every bit as enjoyable as my more conventional trips in the summer. I’m so glad to be back here.