I’m on fall break right now and Michael only drives to Matakana on Thursdays and Fridays so we were in no hurry to get back up to Auckland. Originally we were going to leave Hastings on Monday morning but we were having such a good time we decided to stay an extra day. Even though this part of my family has never (at least in my lifetime) lived in the same place as me, being with them for Easter gave me a much-needed slice of home.
The Hawkes Bay area (where we were) has one of the best climates in New Zealand and is home to many (many) wineries. On Monday we got to visit two of them for tastings and lunch. When we got home Michael and I thought we would treat everyone to a true American delicacy: the root beer float. We then switched gears completely and walked to a park to play some good old-fashioned English cricket (except there were only four of us and we were playing with a rubber ball and we only had one set of stumps). I learned how to bowl (so hard!) and bat with the weird cricket bat (which I was even worse at). Even though I was a total n00b in a sea of experienced cricketers (and Michael), it was enough fun to play until the sun went down. After dinner Michael and I said goodbye to everyone (special hugs for Jackson) and left the next morning.
We were able to eat at my uncle’s café one more time for breakfast and then began the slow journey to Auckland. Since we didn’t have to hurry back for any reason, we decided to take a couple days and stop at some places on the way. Our first stop was Napier, just one town away from Hastings. We went to the National Aquarium (where we got to see kiwis!) and then wandered the town. It’s known as the Art Deco capital of the word because of a huge earthquake that caused mass destruction in 1931. Everything was rebuilt in the Art Deco style and is maintained to this day.
Our next stop was Huka Falls. The water turns an unnatural blue color as it (loudly) mixes with air. From there we made our way into Taupo, where we had booked a hotel. The center of the town is only a few blocks away from a huge lake. After wondering around for a bit we drove to a hot springs pool and spent the next hour relaxing in the warm, mineraly water. That night we saw “Infinitely Polar Bear” at the local movie theater (I would highly recommend it) and ate Thai food before turning in for the night. On Wednesday drove back to Auckland, making just one stop for lunch (Mexican) in Hamilton. Nothing too exciting happened until yesterday, Saturday, when we walked to the Auckland Domain. It’s a giant park with a duck pond and huge trees and lots of gardens. It’s also where the Auckland Museum and War Memorial is located. As it turns out, New Zealand residents get free admission to the museum so we had a look and it’s absolutely beautiful! Oh, and it’s been added to the list.