We had seats right at the back on the flight to Auckland, so we just got two seats together, and the flight was half empty. There was a lot of turbulence during the night, and we crossed the International Date Line and lost Sunday 13th somewhere in the space-time continuum. They brought us breakfast, and when we told them it was Sandie’s birthday they gave us sparkling wine to celebrate. We landed at Auckland, where it was raining hard. We had to queue for a while through immigration and then have our footwear checked to ensure we weren’t bringing nasties into the country, and there was a holdup with the luggage and we had to wait a while for that. The upshot was that we were too late to check the bags in for the flight to Wellington, and so had to drag them on and off the shuttle bus to the domestic terminal. We made it at last and checked them in, and got the short flight down to Wellington.
As we emerged into the terminal, there were Ian’s new bosses, Jit Cheung and Lynne Whitney, to meet us. They drove us round the harbour, with some great views, to the Copthorne Hotel on the waterfront. We crashed in bed for a bit to catch up with some of our sleep. Later we went out and walked up to a little restaurant called Capitol to celebrate Sandie’s birthday. We had to wait for a table, but sat at the bar drinking champagne for a bit. We had a nice meal and the place was lively and friendly.
The next day we went into the city and bought a gold bracelet for Sandie’s birthday. Later we got the hire car out and went for a drive right round the peninsula, with a walk on a rocky beach. On Wednesday and Thursday we sorted stuff out and had meetings with our new colleagues, so by Friday we decided it was time to have a long weekend exploring another part of the country.
On Friday we drove up to Napier, on Hawkes Bay, via Hastings and other interesting little places. When we got there we did the Art Deco Town Walk, as this is what the place is famous for, having been rebuilt after the 1931 earthquake. Later we went in a restaurant cum Jazz Club, and had a pleasant meal with a duo playing and singing in the background.
On Saturday we finished off the Art Deco trail, before driving north up the coast. We did a walk to a really nice waterfall, even though the weather turned wet. On Sunday we had breakfast in an Art Deco McDonalds before visiting a couple of wineries and driving to the top of Te Mata Peak, from where you get fantastic views over the whole Hawkes Bay area. After that we drove back to Wellington, with a fabulous sunset on the way, ready to start work on Monday morning.