8 months ago

Tour of New Zealand South and North Islands by Mike Heins


Tour of New Zealand The rest of the journey to the hotel was mainly flat in spite of us being 2400ft above sea level. Our hotel was situated right on the edge of Taupo Lake and we had a stunning view from our room. We swam in the lake which was warm owing to thermal activity. Tuesday 21 st Feb. We did some shopping in the town this morning. Later we drove to the nearby Huka Falls which are a set of waterfalls on the Waikato River that drains Lake Taupo. A few hundred metres upstream from the Huka Falls, the Waikato River narrows from approximately 100 metres across into a canyon only 15 metres across. This causes an extremely fast flow of water which is impressive to listen to and watch making the Huka Falls a major tourist attraction. We drove 56 miles to Rotorua with its distinctive smell of Sulphur. On arrival at the hotel I sprayed the Lagonda aluminium and nickel with WD 40 to prevent corrosion. In the evening we attended a Maori concert and Hangi feast near our hotel. The men were taught the Haka whilst the ladies took to the stage twirling their poi-balls. Wednesday 22 nd Feb. During the morning we went for a walk around the town before returning to the hotel for 13.00 where we joined our group boarding a coach to visit the Wai-O-Tapu Geothermals. This was an amazing afternoon showing the real power of nature. Once we reached the hotel we found that other group members had also experienced difficulties with the traffic and signage. Saturday 25 th Feb. After another 1 night hotel stop we set off for Paihia in the “Bay of Islands”. This 151 mile trip took significantly longer than planned. For the first 2 hours we averaged less than 5 MPH in the weekend traffic gridlock. We had not expected this. Eventually the traffic cleared and we made better progress. Whilst we were stopped for a coffee break an MG C type owner (Lawrie Poolman) pulled up and we chatted to him for sometime before continuing our journey. Lawrie Pullman’s C-Type M.G. Wai-O-Tapu geothermals. Thursday 23rd Feb . It was a short 51 mile drive to get to Tauranga. On the initial part of the journey we saw many Kiwi fruit farms. Further on, the area was much more industrialised with many large oil storage containers and gas storage tanks visible as we drove along. The roads were also complex with many complicated flyovers. We managed to get lost even with the Sat Nav! After booking into the hotel we spent the rest of the day visiting friends who lived nearby. Friday 24 th Feb. Today we continued to travel north heading for Takapuna following a scenic route of 179 miles. After a couple of hours we made a mistake and ended on an incorrect road but did not realise it for about 15 miles. After studying the map we decided to carry on using a new revised route. It worked well and we saved 45 miles BUT missed some of the planned views. The later part of the journey was on the Auckland motorway network which was extremely busy and the signs confusing until Hazel worked out the “system”. Lawrie wanted us to view his car collection but we had to decline as we were running way behind our schedule. Surprisingly, in spite of the traffic delays, we were one of the first to arrive at the hotel. Sunday 26 th Feb. We visited Russell today which is a peninsular across the bay. The ferry left at 10.00am from the wharf near our hotel and took 15minutes to cross the bay. After disembarking we looked around the town centre until 12.00 when we took a minibus tour to see the countryside and views of the surrounding hilly area. When we returned, our entire group had a formal lunch at the “Duke of Marlborough Hotel”. We were seated on an open air veranda looking out over the bay. Russell is now a very expensive place to live. We caught the return ferry to Paihia and walked back to the hotel. The Duke of Marlborough.

Tour of New Zealand Monday 27 th Feb. The New Zealand TV company had asked the organisers to select 8 cars to take part in a short documentary about the tour including the different cars and people involved. This was scheduled to be shown on the evening news later that day. Our Lagonda was selected and we spent most of the day waiting about whilst the film crew recorded interviews, took static pictures and made videos of the cars driving in and around the area. Parading for the TV shoot. Mike’s Lagonda follows on of the huge Bentleys. The documentary was shown on the evening news but lasted less than 3 minutes and they did not show or mention the Lagonda at all. What a waste of a day! Tuesday 28 th Feb. Today we drove 87 miles through beautiful countryside to Paihia diverting en-route to visit Matauri bay which had been recommended to us. There was a steep winding road down to the beach. Hazel chatted to a tattooed Maori fisherman who explained his technique for catching fish. Maori fisherman with Hazel. Wednesday 1 st Mar. It was a coach tour today for our entire group. The coach picked us up at 9.00am and it took 2 hours to travel to Cape Reinga the most northerly point of New Zealand. We spent 45 minutes there admiring and photographing the views. We walked down to the most northerly point for the mandatory picture by the sign. Then back on the bus and a short trip to some huge sand dunes where a few of our group took the opportunity sand board down the slopes. Next the coach drove along the sand of the so called “90 mile beach”. Cars are no longer permitted to drive on the beach hence our coach trip. After leaving the beach we were taken to a restaurant for a “Fish and Chips” lunch prior to returning to the hotel. Thursday 2 nd Mar. Today it was a long 265 mile drive south through the Kauri forest along the Tasman coast to Auckland. The roads were narrow, twisty with lots of steep hills and valleys. At one point we had an hour’s delay waiting for the Rangiora ferry which could not cope with the volume of traffic. Overall it took us nearly 11 hours to get back to Aukland. Friday 3 rd Mar. A free day at last! We spent the day sightseeing various parts of Auckland. In the evening there was a farewell party and dinner which was quite relaxing with entertainment from a live local trio band called “2 many chiefs”. All too soon it was time for bed. Saturday 4 th Mar. After breakfast I drove the Lagonda to the container port 14 miles away along with 18 other cars. Once at the container depot the fuel was pumped out of the petrol tank and the car left in the hands of the shipping agent. We were transported back to the hotel by coach. During the tour the Lagonda covered just over 3500 miles without a single problem for which I am eternally grateful. Hazel and I stayed in Auckland for 3 further nights but at a different hotel. For those of you who are good at maths you may have remembered 17 cars were shipped out from the UK and 19 shipped back. This can be explained as a member of our group purchased another car whilst in New Zealand and a Bentley which had originally been shipped from America was now needed in the UK for another event. Sunday 5 th Mar. Chris Wheeler who owns an 18/80 Mk II (WM 5261) kindly picked us up from our hotel and drove us to his house where I was able to able to see the excellent work he has done on the restoration of his car. Whilst Chris still has some way to go the quality of his workmanship is excellent and it will make a lovely car when finished. Chris and Catherine provided us with a super lunch and later in the day Chris took us back to our hotel. Monday 6 th Mar. We took a boat trip around the harbour which included a visit to Davenport which is a “harbour side” suburb of Auckland. Whilst at Davenport we visited the official museum of the New Zealand Royal Navy. Tuesday 7 th Mar. During the morning we walked around the town and then watched 2 girls plummeting 192 metres off the Auckland Sky Tower down thin wires at 85 km an hour. They enjoyed it but this was NOT for Hazel or me! In the afternoon we flew to Sydney where we stayed for 4 nights. We visited several of the well known tourist attractions including 3 different performances at the Opera House. Saturday 11 th Mar. We had an overnight flight to Dubai where we stayed for 3 days doing more sightseeing.

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