Shawn's kind neighbour sent us to bus station at Manukau. The whole bus trip was around six hours. The first break was at Hamilton. The lunch break was at Taumarunui town. I bought some Ukraine biscuits to nibble. After we checked in at Plateau Lodge, National Park Village. We rent some hiking gears. For me, I rent hiking boots, hiking poles and overtrous (waterproof and windproof trousers) at Ski Biz. Since the day still early, I walked around the village, went to the post office to sent a post card to a friend from Norway and bought Jonny's Chocolate Eclairs at one of the cafe there. After soak at hot tub and dinner, we went to bed early to get ready for the next day.
That day is a relax and shopping day. I was not going to do too much that day. Shawn dropped me near one of the entrance of Auckland Domain park. I slowly walked to Domain Wintergardens. There are lots of tropical plants in two glasshouses plus huge section of fernery. After spend a bit of time there, I slowly walk to Auckland Museum. I spend a bit of time there before back to city by bus. At city, I went to one of store that was selling Kapiti ice cream. I had Black Doris Plum and Creme Fraiche. It was fruity and creamy at the same time. That day wasn't a good weather. I spent most of the time window shopping and hid under building. I also spent a bit of time hopping shops along Karangahape Road. After meeting with Shawn, we went for final shopping to get more food for tongariro crossing the next day. For dinner, we had fish and chip at Fishsmith in Herne Bay. He also bought some take away for Gage as we are going to meet him later. On the way to send Gage home, we will pass Greenland Bakery & Cafe to buy some award wining pies. I didn't just buy one but three pies, mince and cheese, steak and vegetable, plus pork and kumara. The pork pie was good but the mince and steak pies are even better. I did my last packing for tongariro crossing before going to bed.
Day 4 is exploring Devonport and other north shore suburbs. That day, Shawn drop me at Mt Eden train station. I took the train to Newmarket and had a good swim at The Olympic Pools. Make sure you bring your own lock to lock the locker. Or else you have to use the coin operated locker with time limited. From there, I told a bus to ferry terminal to take a ferry to Devonport. I had a Spicy Apple Crumble plus White chocolate and Raspberry flavoured ice cream at Piccolo Blu Gelato before I start my journey. I walked along Victoria Road to see some of the historical building, toward Mount Victoria. I did not go in Mount Victoria, I will come back if I got enough time later. I walked along Kerr Street and Church Street back to King Edward Parade. To Cheltenham Beach, I walked along King Edward Parade, Cheltenham Road, Takarunga Road and Macky Avenue. I scrolled at the beach and walked along Bath Road and Vauxhall Road to the next beach, Narrowneck Beach. I continued my exploration and walked along Old Lake Road, Hamana Street and Seacliffe Avenue. There was a sign said Beach Access at the junction of Westwell Road and Seacliffe Avenue. But the access was blocked at that time, due to lose rocks. I walked along Winscombe Street, passed George Gair Lookout and some school fields and continued Lake Road. There was a beach access from St Leonards Road, to St Leonards Beach, which I wasn't aware off at first. So I continued walking along Lake Road, Clifton Road and Hauraki Road to Takapuna Beach. Since it was low tide that time, I scrolled along Takapuna Beach and St Leonards Beach and up to St Leonards Road through some stairs. I believe I can walk the beaches till Cheltenham Beach when the tide is low, which I didn't do it on that time due to time constraint. I took a bus near the junction of St Leonards Road and Lake Road back to ferry terminal. Back to city, I needed to go to Kathmandu shop to buy bush walking pants, which is nylon and lightweight and dry easily as I did not bring the right type of pants for tongariro crossing. Unfortunately the shop doesn't have much variety to choose from. I decided to go to the branch at Sylvia Park, as I believed that branch is bigger and got more variety. I was right. I managed to get one finally. After that, I took the train to next station, Panmure, to buy home warming gift to Shawn. It was a surprise to him. He was not suppose to know about it. After that, I took train home to Shawn and Gage. That night was my time to cook dinner. I planned to cook Apricot Chicken with his electric pressure cooker. After dinner, pretty much the day ends as well.
Today is all about Waiheke Island. Shawn dropped me off near his work place. I took a bus from there to city. He passed me his AT HOP card to use for all the public transport in auckland, including bus, train and ferry and also bus at Waiheke Island too. That is really convenience. At that time, the auto top up did not really work well. It only allow you to have negative value for one trip. The next negative value trip, you have to manually top up, even though auto top up through credit card already been setup. After reaching at the island, I walked along Oceanview Road to the main town, Oneroa Bay. There is a gelato stall in that town, Island Gelato Company. I tried Boysenberry and Amaretto from that shop. It was great combination and tasted good. After enjoying the scenery of Oneroa Bay, I continued walking to Little Oneroa beach. There is a river stream connects to that beach. Some cute ducks were wondering there. From the beach, I followed the walkway to Fishermans Rock. I believed I almost reach at the rock but the last part of the way was a steep stairs down to the rock. I turned back from the stairs, and walked along Newton Road, Queens Drive and Hauraki Road. There are home made jam and honey along these roads straight from their home. I walked along Cory Road before reaching Little Palm beach. From Little Palm beach, you can continue walk to Palm beach. There were some seagulls there. There is also a fish and chips shop at the Palm beach bus station. I continue my journey along Palm Road, Bay Road, Cres Road West, View Road, Sea View Road and Seventh Avenue to Onetangi Beach. From there, I took the bus back to the ferry terminal. The bus told different route. Firstly the bus will pass Ostend suburb and Surfdale suburb. The bus will also passed Oneroa before reaching the ferry terminal. I still got a bit of time before meeting Shawn at ASB Tennis Centre. So I walked pass Tepid Baths. That is also a historical building. Recently they renovated the pool and reopened for public. Shawn teaches Zumba at ASB. I attended his class on that day before heading home. That night, we had a simple soup added with smoked chicken pieces.
Second day was all about walking around Auckland city. Shawn works near the city. He dropped me near Auckland Art Gallery and I started exploring the city. It was still to early to visit Auckland Art Gallery since it started at 10am. Suddenly it started to rain. I quickly ran to Moustache Milk & Cookie Bar to have some of their famous cookies and they can be served with milk. That day, I tried Oreo Marshmallow Cookie and Black Forest Cookie. Luckily the rain stopped after that. I walked along Queen Street to check where is Britomart Transport Centre. Britomart Transport Center is bus/rail interchanged. You can go any major places from there. After that, I continues walking to Ferry Terminal and along Quay Street. Walked pass Ports of Auckland. It is enormous. I continued to walk along Tamaki Drive. I saw Parnell Baths. I recognised it's 1950s mural. Very unique. I continued my journey and rest a while at beautiful Orakei Domain. Before I reached at Mission Bay, I bought some beautiful strawberries and avocodos from a fruit stall by the road stall along Okahu bay right before Kelly Tarlton's SEA LIFE Aquarium. I had a relax late lunch at the Mission Bay, looking at the Browns Island, watching people having stand up paddle boarding lessons. Surprisingly, there are not much seagulls on the beach but pigeons. After that, I slowly walked back to the city. Back to the city, I followed the walking tour that is mentioned by the Lonely Planet book. I started from ferry terminal and walked passed Britomart again, walked through Vulcan Lane, where full of historical bars and pubs. After that, I walked along High Street, Freyberg Place and O'Connell Street, upped stairs between Kitchener Street and Bowen Avenue in Albert Park before entering University of Auckland. There are few historical buildings in University of Auckland, such as old government house and clock tower. I walked across Albert Park, through a fountain and continued to Auckland Art Gallery. I skipped the special exhibition, The Light Show, and just briefly walked through awesome general art exhibition there. Along Queen Street, Auckland Civic Theatre is another heritage building. I had a gourmet tiramisu flavoured ice cream at Giapo. I walked pass Auckland Town Hall into Myers Park. This hidden park is surround by lots of residential apartments. The tour is ended at St. Kevins arcade. After that, I met up with Shawn at Auckland public library. Since we got a bit of time before dinner with some of his local friends, we went to Wynyard Crossing and Silo Park. We had dinner with his friends, Kevin, Yusoff, Cruz, Simon and Joshua, at Kushi Japanese Kitchen & Bar. Wait, there are more. We went for cakes and tea at Mezze Bar before heading home and sleep.
New Zealand, here I come. During this trip, I was going to see my friend, Shawn and his partner, Gage. I haven't see Shawn since he last visit to Sydney in 2012. After arriving at Auckland airport, Shawn and his partner picked me up with his car. We had a quick meal before starting my journey in Auckland. All of us had a different taste. I had a sushi bento, where as Shawn chose McDonald and Sage picked Burger King. My first place to visit is Auckland Botanic Gardens. That day was clear sky with light breeze. Prefect weather to see some great variety of flora and fauna grew in Auckland. Herb garden is interesting and spring blossom valley is beautiful. Before heading back to Shawn's home, we stopped by near by Countdown to get some ingredients for that night dinner. Countdown is New Zealand supermarket chain, owned by Woolworths in Australia. Shawn was on low carb diet at that time. That day dinner was kumara with sausage, mushroom and carrot in Mexican tomato salsa. Very creative yet delicious. I tried out his PS4 and played some games before end my day.