The Auckland skyline, taken on our way to the airport
13th-16th December 2013
We decided to first head north to the city of Tauranga on the spectacular Bay of Plenty and we arrived in time for an early lunch. A walk around the Bay, and into the main mall where I really loved the hanging flower baskets, so colourful. After leaving Tauranga we drove along the north coast, then headed south east for Auckland.
The pretty hanging baskets providing splashes of colour in the Tauranga shopping mall
Unfortunately we struck the late afternoon traffic heading into the city, however it moved along fairly well, and we were soon skirting the city then heading over the Auckland Bridge and on to our destination of Milford, a suburb of Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. It is located on Auckland’s North Shore on the northern side of Lake Pupuke. Jen was busily preparing for the 70th birthday party the next day when we arrived – we always have a big hug and a “happy” cry when we see each other, especially as it had been nine years since we had last met (we talk on Skype).
Jen’s husband, Pete, and their daughter and son-in-law, Verity and Matt soon arrived and it was wonderful to catch up with them. It was the first time Tayla had met them since she was about a year old. She soon became firm friends with her young cousins Georgia (6) and Oliver (3), and they followed her around like little shadows. Tay proved to be an excellent baby sitter over the next few days while preparations were progressing, and during the party the next day. On Saturday, all hands were on deck to set up trestles, bar table, chairs, tablecloths – they are all great cooks and hosts and always think of everything!
Tay meets up with her cousins Georgia and Oliver (left) and Grandma and Georgia do a birthday dance in the garden
Saturday dawned bright, sunny and quite hot, it was a glorious and very happy day. It was great for me to meet up again with Jen and Pete’s friends who I hadn’t seen in a long time, and especially Pete’s relatives.
Jen thoroughly enjoyed her 70th birthday party, and Pete had us all in tears with a beautiful tribute to his wife of 42 years. Food was delicious, wonderful wine, good company – what more could we ask?
One incident brought us back to ground level. After all the guests had gone and we were having a quiet time in the garden, Pete had a turn and collapsed. The ambulance was there in a very short time and Pete was taken to hospital, diagnosis was a possible slight stroke. But Pete is made of very “tough stuff”, when we saw him the next day he was walking, and seemed happy and well. Gave us all a big fright though! He is now back on the golf course and fighting fit.
Sunday was clean up day, Tay and I amused Georgia and Oliver by going for a walk to Milford Beach, where we could look across to the iconic Rangitoto Island. The youngest of the islands in the Hauraki Gulf, Rangitoto emerged from the sea around 700 years ago in a series of volcanic explosions. Rising to a height of 260 metres the circular island presents the same uniform appearance and is visible from most parts of the mainland.
We all had a paddle and enjoyed the water of Thorne Bay on yet another very warm and sunny day. We found the local shopping mall and an ice cream shop, made the hard decision as to what flavours we would all like, then sat and watched the Christmas shopping crowd passing by before we walked home.
The kids enjoying the sunshine on Milford Beach (left) and Rangitoto Island
The very pretty Milford Beach basking in the sun
Icecream time for Georgia and Oliver
Tay and I were sad to leave the next day to make our way to the airport and the flight home We had a very special time with our lovely Auckland family, it was the highlight of our visit to the Land of the Long White Cloud. We will make sure it is not another nine years before we meet again! Love you Cussie!