Airport customs at Auckland seemed to be the strictest we have encountered so far on this trip. We smoothly sailed through the immigration and collected our bags within 15 minutes, 'this is great' we thought - until we hit the hour long queue to get out of customs! When we eventually got to the front, we had to unpack our bags, show them the soles of our shoes and our tent and pegs! Apparently, they were looking for soil that could contaminate New Zealand! We passed the test and were allowed in, so packing up everything again we finally made it to the arrival gates, where we were happy to see a friendly face waiting for us!!
Trevor whisked us back to his house in Papakura, one of the many suburbs to Auckland. We were well and truly looked after, with home cooked meals, an extremely comfy bed, a local guide in the form of Trevor and free use of the hot water washing machine! This was bliss!!
Trevor drove us to One Tree Hill, one of the volcanic cones in the volcanic field that is Auckland, with spectacular views over the city skyline. We had our first of many, NZ ice creams! Next up was the west coast of Auckland, where hundreds of gannets have made their home on the rugged cliff tops. The views over the coast line and out into the bays were beautiful and some of the houses perched on the top of the cliffs were equally beautiful! We also managed a harbour cruise, where we visited some of the islands in Auckland bay, before stopping off in Devonport - another gorgeous residential area on the wealthy north shore of Auckland.
On our last day in Auckland, we had a special treat in store and got a behind the scenes tour of Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World! We stood within an arm's length of the resident penguins, which was amazing. The main tank has some huge mantra rays that when they are fed play about on the surface of the water. We also saw the special turtle that was rescued, that only has one front fin. The poor little thing has managed to learn to swim again and hopefully will be able to spend the rest of his days in one of the tanks at Kelly's. After Kelly's we headed over to the Auckland museum that has an amazing collection of Maori artefacts. They have lots of wooden carvings from the different tribes, a full size 'waka' (wooden, traditional canoe that hold about 200 people!), and a traditional meeting house. Amazingly, the Maori people first came to NZ about 1000 years ago in 7 wakas, from one of the Tahitian islands.
The next day after a big fry up (our first, and probably, last in a long time!) we were off to collect our campervan! Our next big road was just about to begin!