“New Zealand is much beautiful as compared to Australia“, this is what I heard the most when I told my friends about our travel itinerary. After witnessing the marvels of Melbourne, it was time to find out the truth behind the said statement and Auckland was our first stop on the mission. Its been a while since I have shared any post on ‘Trip of Lifetime’ series, so you can check out the link to recall where we left and read about our experience of NZ airport.
We woke up late in the morning (can blame traveling blues openly… lol). Though it wasn’t very late in the literal sense (specially for people coming from UAE) but people in that part of the world start their day at dawn (even at weekends – healthy lifestyle you see) and retire early at night too. So according to HI’s friend (Noman bhai), it was quite late. We were staying at his place in Auckland, it was so nice of him and Ray (his wife) to invite us over. They were such hospitable hosts, although I was meeting them for the very first time but they made us feel like we are at home. We planned the day’s excursions while consuming scrumptious breakfast Ray had prepared for us. Got ready and set out to explore Auckland’s beauty.
We reached One Tree Hill in no time since our friends’ house was located in the same suburb. Its Māori name is Maungakiekie (mountain of the kiekie vine); a volcanic peak and popular tourist destination elevated at height of 182-metre (597 ft) overlooking the city with breathtaking views in all directions. It is an important memorial place for both Māori and other New Zealanders as well. When Auckland was founded as a colonial town a tree stood near the summit which gave the hill its English name but unfortunately that tree is not here anymore. Enough of the boring history and description, lets look at the lovely landscapes that we witnessed there. Also embedding below the live session I did on Facebook page from there.
Next spot we visited was Rose Hellaby House Lookout ; such a calm, peaceful place among the woods on the mountain. This was a private property owned by Rose Hellaby who lived here for 35 years, she gifted it to people of the city afterwards. The lookout is actually back garden of the house which offer breathtaking panoramic views of the Waitakere Ranges and the Auckland skyline to the visitors. We ate that yummy lasagne which Ray had packed for lunch in the garden area (I just hated the flies over there, they are bigger and more sticky as compared to the ones we have in this region ). Ray told us that there is an antiques shop here as well but it was closed that day. Check out the stunning views we observed from there.
We resumed our journey to Piha Beach after that. It was a scenic drive through the lush rainforest of Waitakere Ranges with houses, motels and lodges spread out across the mountains. Some driveways were too steep that only experienced drivers can get through, seriously. HI was also enjoying the drive since he was not on the driving seat for the very first time in our trip. There was a lookout point on the way to catch a bird’s eye view of the beach stretch too. Piha was such an amazing beach with black sand, river flowing into the sea and rocky terrain. It was not crowded at all despite of the fact that it was one of the days of weekend, this was the best part of all.
We climbed the Lion Rock, not with E ofcourse. Noman bhai and Ray volunteered to babysit and we said ‘Yes’ without hesitation. Lion rock is an iconic landmark in Piha domain. The walking track starts on the beach near lion’s tail which ascends up his back to a grassy lookout on his shoulders (access to lion’s head is too dangerous and now blocked due to some rockfall). We loved that small adventure of the day, rested at the top on stone seat and enjoyed the spectacular views from above. Meanwhile E was also having a good time with Owais (our friends’ son) at the park area.
All tired and exhausted, we headed back to home afterwards. The sun was still up though it was about 7 o’ clock. The days are quite long in this region and the sun was setting around 8:15 pm in the days we were visiting (i.e. early days of December). Had delicious Biryani for dinner at home (Ray is such a good cook, i must say), did some catch up with friends on ice cream (I loveddd NZ’s ice cream) and planned the other day’s activities before calling it a day.
ALERT: The upcoming post is a not-to-be-missed one for sure! Guess what, it is about Hobbiton Movie Set – one of the most remarkable sites we visited on this trip. Stick around folks 🙂