Day 417, Year 1: Day Trip to Auckland
Date: Saturday, December 9, 2006
Weather: Sunny, Rainy, Sunny, Rainy, Cool
Location: Whangarei, New Zealand

We got up early this morning and headed for Auckland. We had rented a car yesterday and decided to take advantage of it to go to Auckland to inquire about campervan rentals for our NZ tour in March. And we are SO glad we did. We have been researching on the internet, but this is one case where seeing the product and talking to someone who knows all of the ins and outs of island travel was really helpful.

It takes about two hours and fifteen minutes to drive from Whangarei to Auckland. About half way there I said to Mark that I felt like I was in Scotland. The rolling hills go on forever and are so very, very green. There are vineyards and sheep and cows everywhere and from time to time you get glimpses of the ocean. Although I have never been to Scotland, the drive fit my image of that country. When we returned, I decided to do some laundry. While in the laundry room waiting for the clothes to dry, a woman named Liz came in. She is from Scotland and her husband, Hans, is from Switzerland. She was telling me about their recent tours of the North Island and she mentioned that she is as much at home here as in Scotland. She confirmed my image.

When we reached Auckland today it was pouring rain. That might have tainted our image of the city, but somehow we were not as impressed with Auckland as others. It is a clean city, but it didn’t seem to have “character”. I’ll have to visit on a sunny day and see if I have a different impression. We drove south to the airport to check out the campervans. The airport is about forty-five minutes south of the city and by the time we got there, the rain had slacked off. We were very lucky to get a most helpful young man and he gave us the short course in Campervan 101. He was unbelievably helpful and really knew his stuff. And for that, we are very grateful.

When we had come in to the campervan lot we saw a sign for Villa Maria Vineyards. This is one of our favorite wines, even though we aren’t big wine fans, so we decided to check it out. The vineyards are in a volcanic crater on the edge of an industrial park. It doesn’t sound like the perfect setting, but it really is beautiful. We were given a tour of the processing plant and I was most impressed that there are 180,000 bottles worth of wine in just one the tanks . . . and there are hundreds of tanks. So much wine!

Having accomplished our campervan mission and having the added attraction of visiting the Villa Maria Vineyards, we decided it was time to find our way back to Whangarei. It was a great day with beautifully scenery and we were able to get the information we needed and still had time to visit a vineyard. Perfect day.

061209 Day 417 New Zealand–Tour of Villa Maria Vineyard


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