After visiting the church we intended to go to Te Puia where they have a geyser which, apparently, can be induced to spout by tossing some soap into it. Unfortunately, as soon as we arrived there the skies opened and that was that. The rain continued from then on all the way through to Auckland. We decided to give Te Puia a miss and headed out on the road to Tauranga.
On the way, we passed what I thought were mile after mile of vineyards. It turned out that the trained "vines" were in fact field after field of kiwi fruit. I had never seen them growing before and was fascinated by them. Each field is separated by incredibly tall poplar trees which are trimmed very precisely, presumably to act as windbreaks.
We drove through Tauranga, which I believe is the second largest port in New Zealand, and made our way to Waihi (pronounced why-hee), where we eventually found somewhere to have lunch, and then pushed on towards Auckland. The weather by this time was quite dreadful - heavy rain and mist - and we had difficulty seeing all of one of New Zealand's most beautiful gorges, the Karangahake. There is a river running along the valley floor, a tributary of the Waihou River, with the road running down one side and what was the railroad, now a cycle track, down the other. It is quite spectacular.
The rest of the journey was through fairly flat country and into Auckland where we got to experience the traffic which is apparently a real problem here. There is only one bridge across the harbor and most of the traffic seems to be funnelled towards it!!
We found our way to Glenice and Alistair's house, where Maggie and David would be staying for the duration of the workshop, and where Gill Carlsson picked me up an hour later. We then set out to brave the traffic, coming back over the bridge from the North Shore, to Glencowie where I was to spend the next few days.
On Friday, there was to be a party at Gill and Bruce's house in the evening, so Gill wanted to get the place ready and suggested that Bruce and I go out and I could see something of the town. We went first to the Museum where I was able to take some terrific photographs, and then into downtown, where I could look for a few gifts.
The next stop was to head down to the ferry which we took over to Devonport. Auckland has a magnificent harbor, and a huge commercial port, where countless thousands of containers come in and out delivering most of the consumer goods required by New Zealand. We returned from Devonport after lunch and then headed to Mount Eden, where there is a wonderful 360º view over the city. Everywhere one looks, there are little pointed hills, and Bruce told me that Auckland is situated on and around 42 extinct volcanoes. Amazing!
We returned back to his house in time to find that Gill had everything prepared for the evening's festivities. Most of the people who were to be in the workshop managed to make it there and it was wonderful to meet everyone before the workshop and put faces to names before we were to start.