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Published: November 25th 2014
I ended our blog about walks in the Waitekare Ranges by saying that we had been lucky to escape the rain....perhaps I spoke too soon!
Weather here has been very changeable since then. One minute it is tipping down with rain and the next it is nice and sunny. We can see why Crowded House, a New Zealand band, wrote a song entitled '4 Seasons in One Day'!
One reason we have been hiking a lot is to get into practice for walking the Tongariro Crossing walk in the national park next week. We are still uncertain if we are up to standard, and if the weather will be ok. (Reports of snow and people having to be rescued off the crossing).
We have invested in waterproof over trousers, waterproof mac, hats etc.
We had another lovely walk through the rainforest to a waterfall called the Fairy Falls. Palm trees, tree ferns, lots of moss, epiphytes high in the trees and creepers growing up.
We had a lovely scenic cycle ride, mostly off road, to Arataki visitor centre and back. Visitor centre has decks with amazing views over Manakau harbour to the west and one of
A Tui bird (which has a very tuneful song) in a Pohutakawa tree.
those free standing photo frames. There is a cafe we visited with equally stunning views over Weytamata harbour to the east. (The photos taken of these views are a bit dissapointing and only a shadow of how it looked in real life -you have to come and see it for yourself. ) The visitor centre has some fine maori carvings and lots of information about the wildlife, and the reasoning behind culling the rats and possums which are 'invasive foreign species'. New Zealand is very carefull about keeping out and foreign seeds or spores because they want to preserve their native plants and birds. On arrival at the airport we had to say whether we were carrying any fruits food or hiking boots. Then we had to line up to have the hiking boots checked for cleanliness incase there was foreign mud containing seeds germs etc on them. There are a few areas in New Zealand on islands and within fenced areas where mammals have been eradicatedWe also learned that the Waitakere Ranges were logged
Leaf (nephew) has been working most days, so we havent seen a lot of him. However, he brought us all out for an Indian
meal one evening paid for with a voucher he earned at work. Very nice! Another time he gave Fred and I another voucher he earned, which was cinema tickets, so we went into Auckland Imax to see the film Interstellar. Very kind.
I have forgotten so far to write much about Auckland City. Auckland is mostly low rise and very spread out. A lot of the houses are bungalows, as this one, and there are plenty of gardens and trees between. Kris Nick and Leaf live towards the edge of the city. Leaf cycles to the station at New Lynn and commutes in on the train. Train to the centre is not far, but rather slow. It takes 30 mins to central Auckland, but he gets off about half way. The train is very clean and new, with no litter and no free newspapers either. In the centre there are a few high rise buildings, art gallery, new hip arty area by the old wharves, harbour with ferry links to the islands. The iconic Sky Tower can be seen from all around. There is a long harbour bridge, but it is for cars only. You cannot cycle or walk
over it enjoying the views like you can some other city harbour bridges.
We visited the new section of the art gallery which is a very nice building with fun interactive displays. We also strolled around in Wynyard, the new hip arty area by the wharves. This was nice because it had good modern playgrounds for children as well as shops and cafes and places to sit about.
Another day we took the ferry across the harbour to Devenport to see an exhibition called Sculpture on the Shore. The setting for the sculptures is spectacular, looking out over the sea towards Rangitoto. Some of our favourites were the ones in the childrens' art section. Devenport is a rather pretty suburb just a 15 min ferry ride from central Auckland. There are older colonial style houses with intricately carved wooden verrandas, lots of book shops, and a beach with yellow sand.
Our final day in Auckland we went up the Sky Tower. The skies were pretty clear, and we were able to enjoy great views 360 degrees round over both harbours. We noticed that the sky over the Waitekare Ranges to the west was pretty cloudy, wheras the
sky to the east was pretty blue. As Kris said, the Waitekare Ranges are basicly temperate rainforest. There were people doing a bungee jump from the top of the tower, and others doing a skywalk (attached by a harness incase of accident and walking round a narrow path with no rail outside the top of the tower). We were content to watch this taking place and not to take part!
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