Hello for the first installment of Charlotte’s adventures overseas. To see bigger versions of the pictures, click on them.
It all began very late one night with a trip out to the airport. Our plane left at midnight, and daddy had been working very hard in the days beforehand, so he and I had a little sleep one one of the couches while we waited for the plane to begin boarding. Mummy said that she was going to go to the toilet and look after the bags, but she also also took some photos which look very undignified. I don’t think Daddy has even shaved.
After we got to Auckland we picked up our rental car (which was a luridly bright blue ford XR6) and drove into the city in peak hour traffic. Mummy reminded daddy about the family rule allowing for swearing when driving in big unfamiliar cities, but daddy didn’t have to use it (much).
After we found the hotel, checked in, and had a little nap, we went for a walk around town. We looked in the shops down Queen street, the viaduct basin where all the Americas Cups boats were, and around the area of the sky tower building (which dad kept making derogatory comments that I didn’t understand, something about collective compensation…).
The next day we piled back into the car and drove north to the Bay of Islands. Once there we went for a walk along the waterfront, before heading back to our rented unit (via the bottle shop so dad could pick up some Otago Pinot nior wine). After some wine and cheese and crackers (I didn’t get to have any, despite my very non subtle hints that I’d like to try some too) we went out to a restaurant which had a big aqueruim in it, so that I had to divide my time between watching the fish swim past and watching the food going into mum and dad’s mouths (again, they completely missed my subtle suggestions that I’d like a sample or two).
The next day we got up and caught a ferry across the harbor to a town called Russel, where we had breakfast and looked around. Apparently it had once been the capital of New Zealand, but I don’t know how that could be, because I didn’t see any sheep, and I only saw two pubs. I suppose that there were some nice old buildings, including a really old french catholic missionary house with a printing press for making bibles in Maori, but I soon fell asleep.
In the afternoon we returned across the harbour, got in the car, and went up the road to a place called Kerikeri. There as a big old stone building which had been a store ages ago, but after we saw that I got dragged from art gallery to craft store to yet another art gallery. The only upside was when mum took me into a chocolate factory, and later on when we went into a furniture store and she talked about buying me the play table made from several thousand year old kauri wood.
The next day we went on a big drive right from one side of the island to the other (even if this was only about 200km). I got dressed up in my cutest outfit.
On the way we saw some kind of traffic jam. Daddy got all excited and said that this was brilliant, and just like what he remembered was fun about NZ. Mummy didn’t get it.
Along the way we stopped for a coffee and a scone, and there was a sign that mummy found both amusing and terrifying. I thought that if they were having coffee I couldn’t see why I couldn’t have one, and a puppy sould like fun.
The point of all the driving it turned out was to see a huge kauri tree called Tane Mahuta, who in Maori mythology is apparently the god of the forest. He certainly was big.
On the way home we stopped at a place called Opononi so that I could ride a Dolphin. There had been a friendly dolphin who used to live in the harbour next to the town, and it would let kids play with it in the shallows and occasionally even ride it. Apparently New Zealanders had songs and stories about Opo the friendly doplhin that all the kids used to know. Unfortunately the dolphin eventually got old and died, but there was still a statue of him to ride (which was probably for the best anyway, since the water in the harbour looked pretty cold).
For the afternoon we went to Waitangi, which is the birthplace of New Zealand, and where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. We learned lots of things about the history of early New Zealand. Daddy saw some native wood pigeons, and some Tui birds, and was very happy. I got to ride on some big war canoes called Waka.
And have a nice walk around with mum as we looked through Maori greeting houses, a colonial missionary house, and some nice native bush.
The next day we packed up our stuff and headed north, so a town called Kaitaia, and on to Cape Reinga, which is the northern most point of New Zealand. There was a big light house there, and some very pretty views out to where the Tasman sea and the Pacific ocean met and mixed.
The next day a big storm hit, and so we drove back to Auckland (we had been planning on this anyway, but we we pleased to get back to the big city and out of the worst of the weather). Along the way daddy had to stop and help some people whos campervan had been blown off the side of the road by a strong gust of wind.
The other thing that was waiting for me in Auckland was my Granny and Grandad, who were very pleased to see me because I’d grown lots since they’d seen me two months earlier.
We went to the Auckland Museum and I saw how big a Moa was and all sorts of other interesting stuff. After that we want and saw Daddy’s god mother for afternoon tea, and I got told how much I’d grown and how beautiful I was.
Next day we went shopping around the city and to the art gallery. In the evening we went out to dad’s friends Tim and Leanne’s house, where we had dinner, and we met their new daughter Annabel, who is a bit younger than me and who was sleeping most of the night (which was good, because it meant I could use her rocker which played music and flashed light, which was very entertaining).
On our final day we went out to Kelly Tarlton’s underwater world. I got to drive a (pretend) submarine, go on a snow car ride to see penguins, saw sting rays being fed (they’re very pushy and messy eaters, but quite playful too), and went through the underwater tunnels to see lots and lots of different fish.
That night we all went out to dinner, before going to bed early so we could get up and go on the plane again in the morning.