Posted by: dammer145 | October 22, 2008

Our first full day in New Zealand

Anouk has proved to be quite a smuggler! During the wedding my swedish friends gave my a packet of “snus”, swedish tobacco that you put between your teeth and lips. I was not at all planning on taking it with me as I was sure that customs would put up a big fuss about it. Anouk packed it however and it made it all the way through.

We woke up at about 07:00. After having had a nice warm bath to soothe my aching bones we made our way down for breakfast, which was being served not in the hotel, but in an adjacent eatery next door called “Mecca”. Anouk had the “Bruschetta Breakfast” whilst I went for the “Big Mecca Breakfast”. Mecca was right next to the yacht harbour so we had a nice view of sailing boats coming and going whilst we ate our eggs and bacon. All the waitresses at Mecca were most thrilled to hear we had just got married and were very kind. I found it quite striking how many foreigners work here – none of the waitresses were actually from New Zealand. Most were on working holidays from countries like Chile or Germany.

After breakfast we had a little stroll around the area before going to collect our rental car from Budget Car Rent a little further downtown. After filling in the necessary documents, we got the keys to a shiny new Toyota Corolla! As we were to be driving on the left with a right-hand drive, we opted for an automatic gearbox for now – the camper van we would be picking up later in the week would have a manual gearbox so I would have the time to get used to driving on the left first.

We made our way out of Auckland and onto motorway number one towards the north. After a little while we stopped for a bottle of water and some sun-blocker, as we were both already feeling the savage New Zealand sun beating down on our skin.

Not far north of Auckland the motorway stopped and became a single-lane road, which it would continue to be for the rest of the journey north. After having had a small break with a milkshake, we stopped in Waiwera to get some things for lunch: bread rolls, butter, cheese, ham, chili sauce and a knife.

We made our way onwards down the “Twin Coast Discovery” route until at a certain moment we came to one of the most incredible sights I have seen in my life. Just next to the road was a parking, with behind it a beach. The water was clear emerald with waves crashing down onto a white sandy beach. In the distance there were small islands poking their heads out of the water as if they were enormous icebergs. Anouk and I sat under an overhanging tree and had our buns as we watched the waves roll in and the seagulls (and a single albatross) fight over bits of our cheese.

View towards the ocean.

After having collected some enormous shells we set onwards towards Kerikeri, where our B&B would be for the next three nights. On the way we stopped in Wakawaka to see (and to use) the Hundertwasser toilets, designed and built by a famous Austrian architect, known for work such as the Hundertwasser House in Vienna.

Towards 18:00 we arrived in Kerikeri at The Summer House, a B&B held by a lovely New Zealand couple called Rod and Christine. Originally from Auckland, they had the B&B purpose-built to fit their needs in 1999. They have three rooms, including the “Pacific Pavillion”, which we had. It offers a cloakroom, a bathroom and a large bedroom with a terrace leading into their enormous garden.

The garden contains the most intriguing collection of plants – huge birds-of-paradise plants along with a 6-metre-high giant variant from South Africa, enormous endemic ferns, bizarre plants that I have never seen before, etc. They also have row upon row of ugli, tangerine and grapefruit trees, all bearing many fruits.

The back side of our bed and breakfast seen from the garden.

Once we arrived we asked Christine about any good restaurants in the area. She recommended Cilantro in the centre of Kerikeri, which proved to be a very good idea. As a starter, Anouk had the scallops in bacon whilst I had the seafood chowder. After that I had the venison and Anouk had the chicken breast stuffed with camembert and apricots. Along with that the waitress recommended a bottle of Chardonnay from the Bay of Islands region, which proved to be superb. After that, we had no space left for pudding!!

We headed back to the B&B and tried to fight the sleep off for half an hour, but failed miserably.

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