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Robin John’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 08 Sep 2011

Location: Auckland/Cornwallis, New Zealand

MapI arrived in Auckland on Tuesday mid-day, after overnight flight from Bangkok, and was very pleased to meet my welcome party - Sonya and Peter. It was a lovely spring day, so we did a short tour of the city, taking in Eden Hill (good views over the city), Eden Park rugby ground (where the RWC final will take place) to pick up my match tickets, and the harbour and quayside area, where the festivities for the opening ceremonies on Friday will start. There are lots of RWC promotion and posters everywhere - it is now getting some prime news time. The local evening news showed an interview with some of the England players who were visiting Christchurch, and giving some rugby coaching to local school children.
Yesterday (Wed) I wanted to explore the countryside near my hosts' home in Cornwallis. We went to the Arataki Visitor Centre, a focal point for the Waikatere Range nature reserve/regional park, comprising many thousands of acres of natural forest, with sub-tropical species of trees, including lofty palms and elegant tree ferns. In the afternoon, I took myself off for my first 'tramp' on a loop walk at Whatipu, near the mouth of the huge Manukau natural harbour that services Auckland. The walk passed through natural forest and included a high ridge with fantastic views out over the sea, Auckland city away in the distance and the Tasman Sea on the other side. I was lucky with the weather, generally blue sky and a light breeze. This was a great introduction to the NZ countryside, much valued by the population, who love the outdoor life. (I will try to add some photos later.)
Today (Thursday), I am heading south, initially to Rotorua for tonight and then on to Wellington in time for the first Wales game this weekend. RWC 2011 - here we come!
Robin (With many thanks for the encouraging messages from family and friends)