With our last full day in NZ, we stuck around Oputere. We borrowed kayaks from the hostel and did a morning kayak up to the bird sanctuary through a lovely section of marsh, then kayaked around the bay a bit. Â Then we took a much needed nap in the van, and set out to drive to Whangamata for dinner at the place we’d been to a few nights ago (the one where I couldn’t taste the delicious pasta). Â The restaurant didn’t open for dinner until 6 (it was only 4), so we walked the main street (I looked for local NZ yarn with no success), and we decided to head to Auckland and spend the night there.
I (Mel) drove to Auckland, since it was time to give Eli a driving break, and I felt much healthier and up to it. Â Meanwhile, Eli read the guide and found an area that sounded good for dinner. Â We had a lovely meal at an Italian place, he had duck and I had organic chicken that was stuffed with meat and cheese. Yum!
After dinner, we found a close-by holiday park and called it a night. Â We were awakened quite early the next morning by the park proprietor (since we’d gotten in too late to pay the night before, he wanted to make sure we paid), and we were stuck unable to fall back asleep at 7am. Yuck! So we got a start on our day. Â This involved packing everything up, which took a while, since we’ve acquired quite a number of fragile things here 🙂
Then I did some quick online research and found a local yarn shop in Auckland, called Wild and Wolly Yarns. Â It sounded promising, so we drove over. The owner was a lovely woman, who listened to my desire to buy some locally-made yarn, and basically told me that it was a very hard thing to find on the North Island, since most of it is exported. And she said “HA, good luck!” to my inquiry about a place to find a blanket or shawl made with local yarn, and said if I do find any to let her know. Â But I got some great opossum and merino wool produced in NZ to take home and make myself a scarf.
Then we headed to Kelly Tartan’s Aquatic Encounters, a local aquarium that was the first to install a plexi tunnel to walk right through the tanks. Â It was getting close to time to leave, but we had almost 3 hours which I hoped would be long enough.
It turned out to be plenty of time; we saw the aquarium, which had a lot of nice exhibits, and some HUGE stingrays, and were done seeing everything in an hour; it was a small place. Â So we traveled down the street and had an excellent lunch (mmm, lamb kabobs), and drove to the Jucy rental place.
After returning the van, we went to the airport and had the most hassle we’ve had on any of our flights. It was ridiculous. The worst was right before security when they weighed my “purse” and our carryons. Â They told us there was a 7kg limit on carryons (ours was 10), and a 3kg limit on purses (mine was 8), so they made us go back downstairs and check something. Â Meanwhile, all sorts of people managed to sneak by while they were harassing us, without having anything weighed! Â But it was “for our safety” and there was no argument. Â To make matters more ridiculous, you can buy large bottles of liquor and wine after security duty-free, and those don’t count toward your weight. Â ARGH. So frustrating.
But, after the 11+ hour flight to LA, clearing customs, flying to Phoenix, and flying back to Oakland, we’re safely in the States. Â We’ll miss New Zealand and our foreign travels badly (especially the food!!), but I can’t wait to be home. Â Just another week.
Meanwhile, we’re in a hotel right near the airport in Oakland, and I can’t wait to re-pack (since I apparently packed a dead crab, so all my stuff smells terrible), and go see Hil and Aaron!