What else did we do in Auckland before we headed home? We went to Britomart Station, which was only a short walk away, and there we organised a tap on, tap off AT Hop Card, and we were good to go. The cost to Kiwis was $10.00 for the card, $1 to load on it, and for Seniors, all our travel would be free after 9.00am, trains, buses and most ferries. Pretty good value, don’t you think. So we gave the trains and buses a try one day, and the next, boarded the Devonport Ferry, just a short ride across the harbour.
At Devonport Pier
Devonport is a historic seaside village, with interesting Victorian architecture. Maori settlement is believed to date back to the mid 14th century, the time of the great ocean going canoes in which Polynesians migrated to New Zealand. The suburb of Devonport was settled in the 1840s by European merchants and was originally called Flagstaff, because of the flagstaff raised on nearby Mt Victoria. After a wander around, and a coffee in a very attractive wharf side café, it was time to board the ferry back to the Auckland. Auckland is also known as the City of Sails because of the numerous yacht marinas and sailboats anchoring offshore.
Lovely old hotel in Devonport
And what better way to celebrate our last night in Auckland with a live show. We had tickets to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical School of Rock at the beautiful Civic Theatre. This tells the story of Dewey Finn, a washed up former band member who poses as a teacher at a prestigious prep school purely to earn some money for his long overdue rent. The only teaching he is interested in is rock music, and he turns a class of straight-A pupils into a mind-blowing rock band. Their aim is to qualify for Battle of the Bands. The children in the show are amazing, singing, dancing and playing their own instruments like professional rock musicians. It was a great show.
School of Rock at the Civic Theatre
We’ve said it before, being on holiday can be hard work. Especially when the alarm clock is set at 5.30am. Up early for a shower, arrive at breakfast at 6.00am, and no, we weren’t the first ones there. Back down to the room to collect our bags, return the entry cards to reception and jump in a taxi at 7.0am. We were off to Auckland Strand Station to board the Northern Explorer, for a leisurely trip home. Why fly when you can travel by train? And being retired, we certainly had the time for an all day train trip.
The carriages are very comfy, plenty of legroom and nice big windows. The café car had options available to keep us fed and watered, and in the afternoon staff came through the carriages selling world famous in New Zealand Kapiti Ice-cream. Even though we didn’t know we wanted an ice-cream, once they were offered, of course we said yes.
An announcement was made over the sound system that there was no Wi-Fi available on the train. But they did have “Windows Live”, just look left or right out the windows and we could see it all. However, Windows Live did not work in the tunnels! Very clever play on words, I thought. We certainly saw some glorious vistas though the windows.
Rolling farmland and bush clad hills
Chugging over the viaducts and looking down at the deep ravines
Snow capped mountains
Our train journey ended at Palmerston North. A taxi came to pick us up and take to the airport where our car was in Long Term Storage, then off we drove to home. The holiday was over. Guess my days of smoked salmon and brie for breakfast are now over!