The last time I wrote we had just left the wonderful Coromandel and going from very few people back into a city was undoubtedly going to be a culture shock. Seriously, it had been months since we'd been anywhere with lots of people, Auckland has lots of people and traffic!
We had decided while in the Coromandel that the next main base would be in Muriwai, but that is quite a trek from Thames with a caravan so we opted to break the journey up with a short stay just south of Auckland at Ardmore. This was a great base to check out the first of the Auckland Regional Parks we would visit at Waitara. Like the other regional parks it is amazing to be such a short drive from the city and find yourself in solitude in 188 hectares of coastal walkways, native bush and cycleways. All of the regional parks are a hive of activity over the weekend as busy city dwellers try to find some space in which to breath.......during the week though they are generally deserted, bliss.
After Ardmore we navigated Auckland's motorways out to the west coast for our destination of Muriwai where we would spend the next six weeks. The west coast of New Zealand has a reputation for being a little bit rugged and ever so slightly windy ;-). It didn't disappoint in winter with days of wind and rain a regular companion on our stay here. Those same weather systems, did though, make for some stunning sunrises and very bracing walks along the beach. Winds in excess of 140km/h made standing up on the cliff top where we were a little interesting to!
Muriwai is primarily famous for its Gannet Colony which you can see easily from a coastal walkway. Slightly bad planning on our part though as they make their way over to Australia for the worst of our winter so the normally busy colonies where empty.....oh well, will have to go back later in the year to photograph these magnificent birds. The rugged weather conditions coupled with a fantastic beach also make the area a magnet for surfers, blokarts and kite surfers who can be seen in large numbers every weekend.
It took a bit of getting used to but we did brave the city on a few occasions. Highlights being a trip to the Art Gallery, Silo 6 exhibition space and, of course, various trips to craft breweries. No doubt about it, New Zealand craft brewing capability continues to get better and better!
Personally I find the whole area sprawls far too much with the CBD not being attractive and like any other city in the world. However, as as skyline it is stunning at night and best seen from across the water in Devenport which is just a 15 minute and cheap ferry ride away. As a bonus Devenport also happens to have a number of great cafe's, restaurants and lovely areas to walk in making for a perfect starting point if you don't fancy navigating the city traffic.
Next stop for us is the top of the North Island as we make our way around the Bay of Islands. Until then, here are just a few of my favourite images and memories from our stay in the Auckland area.