Kia Ora from Aotearoa, Land of the Long White Cloud.

We arrived at the airport in Perth at 8:00 am on Monday and arrived in Auckland at 1:00 am on Tuesday!  It's a long, long way from Perth to Auckland!  Generally, the flights and plane changing in Melbourne were uneventful.  However, they are very strict in NZ about bringing in dirt and, the only real glitch in the trip was in getting our tent through NZ customs.  They took it into their "lab" and inspected it for dirt and bugs...they even turned it inside out...and when they gave it back to us after 30 minutes, they said..."we don't repack things, sorry!"  So there we were, with an 11 X 15 tent spread out on the floor of the terminal building at 2:00 AM!  Turned a lot of heads, but we managed.

After a few hours sleep at a motel, we got our rental car and were off on phase two of our adventure.  We spent a few days in and around Auckland visiting some of the sights...Auckland Zoo, Auckland Museum, a small butterfly park,

and an Underwater and Antarctic Adventure. 

At the zoo we actually got to see a Kiwi in action.  There is a nocturnal exhibit where you have to let your eyes adjust for about five minutes...and, whoa, there he (or maybe she) is, walking right in front of us and calling out, and poking around in the leaf litter looking for bugs...that's what Kiwis do.  We watched, fascinated, for about five minutes and then moved on.  We've talked to a few New Zealanders who say they have never seen one! No, we didn't take any pictures!!!

We also had a nice dinner at a little pub in Possum Bay...(It's actually in Ponsonby, but my navigator sometimes has some difficulty with the local names!)

After spending six weeks tenting around Western Australia, where we had NO RAIN...on our final might tenting in POURED...while we were fine inside the tent, when it came time to pack up and move on, we had a soppy tent to deal with...all part of the process.  Here's a view of downtown Auckland the afternoon before it rained...

We moved on up the coast to the Bay of Islands and checked into a nice Caravan  Park where they had some camping cabins.  We elected to stay in one of these units until the weather cleared and we could dry out the tent.  The "camping cabin" is a spartan room about 14 X 16 with one queen bed and a couple of bunk beds (enough space to sleep six), plus a table, four chairs and electricity!  It also includes access to a full shared kitchen, with your own dishes and utensils in a private locked cupboard, and a private chilled locker of a size that would hold a dozen bottles of wine.  Plus you have access to the regular toilet/shower block and the camp laundry.  The price for this...$60.00 NZD per night...but since we have a "Top Tourist" card from Australia (equivalent to Good Sam), we get a 10% discount. so $54.00 NZD...which equals (54.00/1.953021906)...are you ready? ... $27.65 USD!  At that price, we may not set up the tent again...Oh, we did set it up yesterday to dry it out and then packed it up again!

Hururu Falls is just a couple of kilometers from the caravan park...

Today, which was Sunday here, we went over to Kerikeri to visit the Farmer's Market, some historic buildings and a very nice parrot park.  At the farmer's Market they had local entertainment...

as well as lots of local fruits and vegetables.  Tomatoes were $3.00 NZD per kilo...that's two and two-tenths pounds for about $1.60 USD...or about $.80 USD per pound!!! (I know those are not tomatoes!)

At the parrot park, Paula did her bit at charming the local birds and had them eating out of her hand again.

Then we went to Waitangi to visit the site of the 1840 Maori Treaty signing with the British.  The Maori have done considerably better with their treaty than the Native Americans have done with the various treaties they have had with the US government.  The Waitangi Treaty became the foundation for the government of New Zealand.  At the Treaty Grounds, they have a Maori cultural presentation...where they get audience participation...and try to teach the tourists some of the traditional dance moves...

We then went back to Kerikeri (it's only 28 km) to the local Film Festival which was showing "Young @ Heart"...and we both loved it...a great film, highly recommended to all.

Tomorrow we are planning on going to the tip of the North Island to Cape our adventure continues...

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