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Published: January 27th 2015
We arrived in Auckland on the night of 16 December and were glad it wasn't far to the hotel. Rain poured; wind howled. Vile.
The next day we drove to Thames, then to Katikati in our lime green hired car, staring out of the window at the rain and mist and wishing it would all stop. The rain slowed to a drizzle in Katikati and I went for a walk in my Goretex waterproofs.
Katikati is cool. There are colourful murals depicting the history of the town, fun-looking restaurants and signs informing visitors of the many things to do. I opted for the haiku walk and ambled through a lovely riverside park reading poetry on large rocks interspersed among the grass and trees. I saw tuis and kingfishers that posed for me as they knew I did not have my camera, and it was too wet for a good shot anyway.
Matt and I had dinner in a great Indian restaurant, Mehtab. You can find it on Tripadvisor.
Sunshine greeted us on the 18th so we went to a bird sanctuary. Most birds were free to fly and waddle around the pretty landscaped area, though a few
were in large cages. We saw New Zealand fantails, white-faced herons and kerere (kingfishers). Some other birds such as guineafowl and mallard ducks with cute ducklings came up to us, faces raised to ours, beaks open, hoping for food which is sold at the entrance. We tried to divide ours between all the birds we saw.
We then drove further along State Highway 2 to a rock garden and did the bushwalk through an extensive tract of land planted with New Zealand native trees and shrubs. It was pretty but amazingly steep, slippery and muddy. I fell and got covered in dirt and dead leaves. I was not a happy bunny. Luckily, there were no broken bones or camera equipment.
After washing off as much rubbish as I could in the Ladies, we walked on a concrete pathway, thankfully, to an orchid garden which was beautiful and to a rock garden where bumble bees buzzed among brightly-coloured flowers.
Then it was off to Whakatane where we booked into a motel near the harbour, and I could have a shower and a change of clothes.
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