Posted by: dammer145 | October 25, 2008

Back to Auckland, then Southwards

In a certain way we were not looking forward to today: our last morning at the Summer House. As usual Christine cooked up a wonderful breakfast for us, we signed the guest book and packed our bags. Hopefully we will make it back there one day – it’s a wonderful oasis of peace and quiet!

Tane Mahuta.

We set off towards Auckland again, but decided to take a 100 km detour to visit Waipoua forest. We had seen quite a few kauri trees over the past days in the Puketi forest, however Waipoua forest held a tree of another calibre: the Tane Mahuta, or “Lord of the Forest”. A 2000-year-old vast pillar of bark rises from the swampy forest floor nearly 18 metres to the lowest branches, the total height of the tree being well over 50 metres.

We set onwards. Driving through Waipoua forest felt a little bit like being in Jurassic Park – any moment we were expecting a tyrannosaurus rex to come jumping out from between the palm trees and have us for lunch.

Soon we were out of the forest again and back on the main road (number 1) towards Auckland. We stopped to get some lunch in a place called Dargaville – which proved very quickly to be a big mistake. Dargaville has a history of being a service town for gum-diggers and loggers – traces of which are still very noticeable today. The drunks in the streets along with a generally grim outlook made us leave as soon as we had been able to buy a pie for me and a hotdog for Anouk (which didn’t even remotely look like the ones we get at home – the sausage had been shoved on a stick, drenched in batter and fried so deeply that the fat dripped off of it).

The Sky Tower

After a further rather uneventful drive we were back at the hotel where we started out – the Sebel. We got an identical twin of the room we had the first night, and after having sat down and calling a few people we set out to have a look around Auckland, as we didn’t get the chance to do that the first day. We walked up to the Sky Tower, a 300 metre high pillar of concrete and steel which towers high above the Auckland skyline. At the bottom of the tower is a casino, which we decided to have a look at.

The casino turned out to be enormous (although Anouk said it wasn’t as big as ones in Las Vegas, I had however never seen such a thing). All kinds of nationalities were trying their luck at roulette, craps, slot machines, the wheel of fortune, etc. We decided to have a go at black jack. We cashed in 100 NZD (50 euros) for chips, sat down and started playing. Soon we were up at 130 NZD and decided to quit once we would make it to 200. The only problem was that we never did quite make it there. For those of you who know how blackjack works, at one point I got a double ace. I split the ace and got a picture card on both aces! Double twenty-one! You could imagine my joy – only to have it annulled by the bank also getting twenty-one. I think destiny was trying to tell us that betting is just not for us – I will leave it to other members of the family.

After losing 100 NZD we figured it was time for something to eat and drink to drown our sorrows. We walked back in the direction of the hotel along the quays and ended up in a Japanese restaurant where the waiters almost literally dragged us in so we would come and eat (a little coercion apparently does wonders with tourists). We had some rather tasty Japanese beans to start with and after that Anouk had a hot plate of prawns whilst I had sushi, along with a nice bottle of chardonnay to swig it all down.

Soon we were back in our room and fast asleep.

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