new zealand | hobbiton | auckland | waiheke island

April 19 – 21

Up for a jog followed by a swim in Museum Hotel‘s lap pool … Delicious brunch at Duke Carvell‘s on Swan Lane … Pick up the rental car (thanks to Aeroplan rewards and Avis!) and pack up for the big drive to Matamata… Driving through lush valleys and farmland, past signs advertising “Pony Poo $1″ and “Peach Teates: Cows Love Them” (if you ever do this 6-hour haul, I recommend stopping in at Le Cafe Telephonique, Taihape) … Finally arrive at the Tower Road Motel around 8:30pm … So tired and thankful that the falafel place is still open in town.

Mario’s up bright and early with the enthusiasm of an 8-year old because we are booked on the 9:30am tour of Hobbiton …  We have time for a quick breakfast at Eat (in these parts, a cafe serving raw organic food is like seeing a mirage in the desert) … The tour is interesting and much more fun than I thought it would be (thanks to our guide Jamie). Again we are so lucky with the weather as, while sipping on cider in the Green Dragon pub (a pint of their bespoke beer is offered complementary at the end of the tour) a torrential downpour ended what was a gorgeous morning … Back to Eat cafe for a healthy lunch on the run (we are on a mission to get to Auckland to return the car by 2:30) … We’re about 15 minutes late, but Avis is cool with it … We hop into a taxi and check into Hotel DeBrett (an iconic luxe boutique hotel) … The front desk associate (whom we start lovingly referring to as “Mary Poppins”) shows us to our stylish suite that is a cozy cocoon in the middle of a busy city. Hours of driving has taken it’s toll in me, so I put on the red velvet robe provided and relax, while Mario takes the camera out for a spin… We join DeBrett’s owner, Michelle Deery, for a pre-dinner drink in the Drawing Room (so chill and a great way to meet other guests) …  Head out to the Britomart precinct for a fun dinner at Mexico Food & Liquor (authentic atmosphere; loved the salmon taco and other tapas) … We’re both beat so we slow walk it back to the hotel, grab dvds from the Library, and barely make it through opening credits before both of us are out cold.

Monday, our last day, and we’re up early for a run on the waterfront… Continental breaky at the hotel (Mario is impressed with everything DeBrett, but the excellent cappuccino is what he raves on about) … Pack up and check out before hopping on the ferry to Waiheke Island… Another gorgeous day affords us amazing views of Auckland… Excited to lunch at The Oyster Inn! Standouts are the Very Green Salad and the Tempura Oysters with a white from Amisfield (the Central Otago winery where the Royals ate when they visited NZ’s South Island) … Owner, Andrew Glenn, gives us a quick tour of one of the rooms (really wish we could have stayed a night)… We say goodbye to Andrew and his partner Jonathan, and walk the beach before grabbing one last scoop of gelato.

Bon voyage New Zealand! Love you, but we won’t be doing the 60+ hour round-trip again anytime soon.

more fresh presse…
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