On to Auckland

We rose to a purposefully slow start to the day as our gracious hosts said there was no need to rush out. And as the only thing on today’s agenda was to drive from Whitianga to the outskirts of Auckland to turn in the rental car, we putzed along this morning. As I was fixing coffee I heard a little mewing and went out to find Carl, the super friendly cat coming for morning visit and scratch. I had my breakfast and coffee sitting outside watching the antics of the chickens.

Annemarie and Frederick came out for one last chat before they had to head out for the day. Nothing like standing barefoot in the grass in ones jammies chatting with the birds and chickens singing to us all. How delightfully relaxed and friendly.

With bags completely repacked and the car loaded for the last time we were ready to head out. But then we found the most charming farewell – little flowers tucked under our windshield wipers! We decided we would move them over to our hosts car and Dian also tucked in a couple of Kleenex. She stated they were to represent our tears having to leave. Aaaahhhh.

Off we drove somewhat retracing our steps from the day before. Not far along I spotted a hand painted sign on a tree saying “mussel fritters”. Well, Dian has had a hankering for mussels and had had them a few tines here, but more are always welcome. A u-turn later and we were at a small town farmer’s market. Dian found a mother/daughter duo frying up the fritters. While she was getting that I opted for my morning “flat white” coffee. I found her sitting outside by the garden happily savoring the treat. We bought some other items from the same pair for later. Onward we drove. Through yet more mountains and curvy roads. Why this country bothers with posting signs for curvy roads with how many km on them is beyond me, as that’s just what the majority of the roads are! Maybe someone got a good deal on them.

We continued on with the traffic getting heavier and the roads began to widen. A sure sign we were approaching the city. Sigh. I’ve been spoiled here enjoying the rural side of things, not dealing with many big urban environments. Fortunately we were on our way to drop off the rental car so we wouldn’t have traffic or parking as an issue. Once again that travel gods were on our side as we found a gas station just shy of the dealer, filled up and checked in. We held our breath as she checked the car, considering the bit of an “oops” I had in Invercargill with the rock wall. No problem! Whew! After driving both islands for a month we racked up 4,999 km. That’s 3,124 miles!!

Dian got on the phone and ordered an Uber and within a couple of minutes he was there and loading our bags. We had to have him take us to a location that was set up for lock boxes, get the key, then take us a few blocks away to the apartment. It’s small, but only a couple minutes walk from the Sky Tower. But our plan for the evening was to find the All Blacks shop for Dian to exchange the shirt she got in Christchurch. After wandering around a bit we located the shop. On the way back we spotted a New World supermarket. Now they have been a lifesaver for us all over the country and of all things I wanted one one their bags as a souvenir. Once accomplished we headed back to the apartment to eat and work out our plan for tomorrow.

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