a side trip to New Zealand

Lynn & Mike ..around the world
Mike Drinkrow & Lynn v/d Hoven
Sun 10 Aug 2014 08:23
A side trip to New Zealand
Last year when we decided to go to Australia, rather than take Time2 to New Zealand, we agreed that we would find some time to do a fly-in trip down to New Zealand. As we were still having a lot of wintery weather in Queensland, early August seemed like a good time.  Mike was keen to see Auckland and see more of the north island, and we wanted to do some skiing. After looking at some skiing brochures, we decided that a few days at Mount Ruapehu (middle of the north island) and some road tripping by car, would be the plan.
We flew into Auckland Airport and then next morning drove south through Hamilton to Whakapapa, to the Chateau Hotel high on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu. It is a lovely old world country hotel, with all the trappings. Lots of chandeliers, a grande piano, full size snooker table,  reading room, formal dining rooms etc.  All was looking good – except there was very little sign of snow!  Each day we drove the up the hill to the ski station base and each day we drove down again. Not only was there very little snow, but it was very wet and rainy and the facilities seemed quite limited. There was only one lift going up to the middle mountain, which would give you a single 5 min run – as the higher lifts were closed.  Not worth the effort!  We realised that this is a very marginal ski area – even though it was the middle of winter, they are not high enough, it is too wet and they don’t have the back-up snow making facilities that are usual in the USA or Europe. We were very disappointed, as we had been “sold” this idea – but we made the best of it. Enjoying the food and the rather pleasant warm water pool (37deg) and sauna in the basement.
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The Chateau Hotel
We stayed for three days, as we had prepaid the hotel, and then headed back to Auckland, this time via Taupo.  It was a pretty drive through beautiful farmlands, despite the on going rain. Interestingly enough, there seem to be a lot more cattle here than sheep. We decided to stay in Half Moon Bay, south of Auckland, close to where our friends Kerri and Andrew (sv Mariposa) lived, and joined them for dinner that night. Sadly we had realised that Mike was coming down with the flu, and I was not far behind. The hotel we stayed at, was on  a marina, with a nice restaurant precinct and a very efficient ferry service to the city. While we did manage to take the ferry in one day and go up the iconic Skytower – most of the time was spent in bed. Mike and I managed to get very very sick with the flu and decided to travel no more. 
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At the SkyTower                                                                                                    Auckland Marina
The day before we left we took a quick drive out to Devonport, and to the massive Auckland marina, but in reality were just going through the motions, as we felt so awful.
We flew back to Townsville – a trip that took the whole day (taxis, 2 flights, a ferry ride and a lot of waiting) and then promptly got back into bed for another 3 days....the reason this bog is so late
I can honestly say that I do not recall ever having felt this ill.  Next year we are going for the the Flu jab
We are now on the marina at Nelly Bay, deciding on our next adventure.