Road to Middle Earth Part I – City of Sails

This June holiday, we travelled forward in time to visit a new world down south. This is the world’s last landmass ever discovered and populated.The earliest immigrants named it Aotearoa. And some refer it as the Middle Earth. After an amazing long 11-hour redeye flight (smoothest flight ever with no turbulance at all) from Hong Kong, Felicia, Elkan and I touched down at the world’s largest Polynesian city. The city too, comes in many different names – Tamaki Makaurau, City of Sails or simply Auckland.

This is our 2nd vacation without the great company of Auntie Baybay and Uncle Harshad. And it was our 2nd overseas vacation trip during the June holiday. Usually, we would explore new places during the Nov-Dec Christmas season. Last Dec was an unfortunate exception as the entire family was infected by Chicken pox. Considering this as a “holiday compensation”, I gave them a surprise trip down at Middle Earth.

Like all times, I wanted to keep this as a surprise until they arrived in Hong Kong. However, there were a couple of things that I would need Felicia to prepare – their winter clothing and driving classes. Yes, driving classes. You see, I cannot drive (Thanks God how many lives I spared by not having a driving licence) so we may have a problem in New Zealand. Therefore, I told Felicia about this surprise trip and got her to take up driving-refresher’s course. It was almost 16 years ago when Felicia and I last travelled on wheels alone (and that was in Western Australia in 1999). Felicia was nervous at first when I broke the news to her. She took 3 driving classes and regained her confidence. Anyway, I have plotted a very driver-friendly route. We kept it to maximum 2-hour of driving per day. This is a 10-day tour with 5 stop overs.  Due to this careful planning, I have decided to shelf the Southern Island trip to our next vacation. And hopefully, I can rally more driver-buddies to come with us.

Elkan was extremely excited the moment we touched down at Auckland Airport. He always wanted to see his mum driving. This must be an unforgettable moment for him. I saw the sparks in his eyes the moment Felicia started the engine. Felicia did a test-drive around the carpark and off we went! GPS was working superbly and in no time, we arrived at our hotel.

This is the first time we travel together on wheels. There is no need to catch a taxi or a train. We can go and stop wherever and whenever we want. It is such a fantastic feeling, just like the old times we had when we were in Australia.

Auckland is a very small city with little attractions. The highlight of Auckland is seeing Felicia on wheels. We explored Auckland’s key shopping district Queen’s Street on our first day. We are impressed by the city’s cleanliness and its warm people. We love the suburbs and the beautiful big houses. There were a lot of Asians residents (Chinese, Hong Kongers, Japanese, Koreans and Indians) on the streets. Most shops close at 5pm and the city wind down. It reminded me of a mini Sydney.

The next morning, we took a 30min-ferry out to Waiheke Island for a half-day tour. A big island with many expensive beach-facing villas, vineyards, farms, novelty shops, beach cafes, seafood restaurants and powdery white bays. It is a lovely island with very friendly islanders. Unluckily for us, the weather was very unpredictable today. One minute, it was clear blue sky and the next, grey clouds with drizzle. This crazy cycle of sunshine and rain repeated itself numerously throughout the day. It was frustrating for me as I was handling the photographic gears. I wanted to fly the drone but the weather was just too windy and unpredictable.

We ended our short 2-day city stay on the summit of Auckland’s tallest dormant volcano, Mount Eden. Standing at 196m tall, on the rim of its green leafy volcanic crater, the sunset view of the city was spectacularly stunning.


Next stop, Hamilton. Yes, we are going to visit the most-popular-touristic village of Middle Earth – The Hobbiton Village.

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