Craig and I both had a super crappy sleep last night, so waking at 6.30 and knowing it would have been 7.30 didn’t help, but it was all forgotten once Jessie was into her Easter egg hunt, and she was soooo excited… I love the magic of it all. We even got a little Easter treat with out breakfast this morning, before checking out – the most delicious hot cross buns I’ve ever tasted.
This morning we were booked in for the 9.45am ferry departure, and we had our fingers crossed it’d be on time because we were also booked in to take out some ‘Clearyaks’ at 11.30am from a place called Leigh, up near Matakana, which is a half hour drive north from Sandspit, where the ferry arrives back into. The ferry was definitely not on time, but we had the welcome distraction of chatting to our new friends who came to say goodbye (they were leaving on the later ferry)… it’s so lovely how kids make such hard and fast friendships whole holidaying, but so sad when they have to say goodbye, and keeping in touch isn’t really an option when you’re 3 years old and live over 1000km apart. We were pleased to see though, when the ferry finally arrived, that it was a much smaller cat (faster) and headed directly for the mainland, no stops this time. We jumped on and enjoyed some Metallica on the way, as well as a near miss with a Sunday driver who didn’t know the rules (if you’re approaching a vessel from the port side, then they have right of way), so we got to witness one of the cat crew hanging out the window yelling “USE YOUR BLOODY EYES”… that might give you an idea of how casual an operation it is.
We got to Sandspit with perhaps 5 minutes to spare, power-walked to our rental car and headed for Leigh. It was the most stunning day and when we arrived at Leigh we realised what a popular swimming spot this was… there were people EVERYWHERE, and definitely not the infrastructure to support the number of cars. Craig let Jessie and I out into the scorching heat, to go and find the Clearyak operators, while he scrambled to find a park. He found one, we eventually found the operators (not an easy feat) only to find that they’d decided the surf was too choppy today. We were soooo gutted, we’d really been looking forward to this – they’re the only company in NZ, currently, who hire out clear kayaks, and the marine reserve is absolutely stunning. However, you can’t control the weather. Jessie was getting tired at this point, and we’d like to have stayed and just gone swimming with the hundreds, but we thought maybe it was better to carry on and let her nap – we’d passed a cafe and wool shop on the way there, so thought we’d head back there while she slept… but we got back there to find that the wool shop had closed up (not sure whether they got busted for being open or not). Jessie was in such a deep sleep that we also decided to flag Matakana Country Park, which was disappointing as it looks absolutely amazing for kids – they’ve got an amazing playground, pony rides, mini trains, a cafe and more. But never mind, hopefully we will head back up that way at some stage as I’d love to explore the area more – Matakana is a gorgeous little town.
We pushed on to Puhoi, to make up for the stop that we didn’t get to make on the way up, and that worked out well – we managed to nab a table (it was crazy busy) and had a yummy lunch, each with at least one kind of delicious cheese, of course. They also have a great playground, so we made a brief stop there before deciding the sun was too much. We had noticed a river canoe and kayak place on the main drag on the way through – the kayaks weren’t see-through, and you definitely couldn’t see anything in this water anyway, but we had a lot of fun paddling up the river through the valley – Jessie even got her own wee paddle to be part of it. We did get the kayak beached at one point, but we won’t talk about that. We also got absolutely soaked, so afterwards we stood on the main road and got changed into fresh clothes beside the car… not a lot of traffic, fortunately.
We decided to head into our hotel in Auckland from there, seeing as we were booked for dinner in a couple of hours and Craig needed to change into something a bit nicer for dining out. Quick check in and change and we were back on the road to Riverhead, which I want to say is North West?? But I’m not great when it comes to Auckland geography. It was about 20 mins from the CBD anyway, but felt semi-rural. A friend had recommended a brewery/beer garden (bier garten) called Hallertau Brewery, which has an awesome playground onsite and caters really well to kids while still being super cool for adults. We really enjoyed the food and atmosphere, and Craig’s quite liking sour beer at the moment, so he had a tasting paddle of those. Very cool vibe – you nailed it, thank you Dana!
We’re now back at our accommodation (the same place as Thursday night) and in bed quite early, thanks to daylight saving, so I’m off to watch a movie after this. Tomorrow we’ve got a few activities planned before our late afternoon flight home, so I think it’ll be a great way to end our little holiday.
I hope everyone enjoyed their chocolate today!