Sunday 26th October – Wednesday 29th October
Manakau, North Island, New Zealand
We arrived in Wellington airport very late at night, where we were met by our friend Doug (whose surname is Peace, in case you were wondering about the strange title for this post). We have known Doug for twenty years (he was the best man at our wedding too) and two years ago he moved to New Zealand. Since moving out here with his fiancee Julie and three month old Sam he’s got married, bought a house and added baby Joe to the family.
There was lots of catching up to do!
The family live near Manakau, about an hour out of Wellington.
They have enough land for some cows and a couple of lambs (I was still standing on their land when I took this picture of the house!) and have a fantastic view of the countryside, with the sea in the distance. The house itself used to be the old stationmaster’s residence from Otaki, a few miles away, before it was moved to its current location. Apparently it’s quite common for New Zealand’s wooden houses to be picked up and moved on the back of a truck!
Foxton Spring Fair
On Sunday we visited nearby Foxton for a local fair, with local crafts, food and music.
We were particularly impressed by an incredibly energetic performance of Japanese drumming.
Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre
Monday was a bank holiday in New Zealand so – of course – it was wet and windy. We decided to take a trip to Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre, which gave us a fantastic close up view of some of New Zealand’s most famous and beautiful birds. Before settlers arrived in New Zealand there were only two species of mammals on the islands, which meant that a number of birds had evolved to behave much more like mammals in other parts of the world. Kiwis are a classic example – as well as being flightless, kiwis live in burrows and are nocturnal. Pukaha has a very rare white kiwi called Manukura, which became such a star that it even has its own Facebook page!
We also loved a beautiful bird called the Kokako and several Kaka, who are wild but still come back each day to be fed.
Day out in Wellington
Doug had the day off on Tuesday, so the three of us took the train into Wellington for our first view of the city. The journey itself was beautiful, taking us along the coast (the island in the distance here was used in filming for Peter Jackson’s King Kong movie).
A particular highlight of our day was a trip on the Wellington Cable Car, which opened in 1902. It starts in the city centre and finishes 120 metres up at Kelburn Lookout, providing beautiful views of the city and its harbour.
We then walked through the Wellington Botanic Gardens back down the hill. A taste of a truly beautiful city.
Wednesday was our last day in Manakau, so we took a drive to the nearest beach for a walk. Cars are allowed on the beach, so parking was quite easy…
We finished with a lovely lunch at a cafe in Otaki.
All in all, it was a really fantastic few days – great to catch up with old friends and to meet the rest of the family. It was also the perfect start to our visit to New Zealand.
Quote of the day
“Can you play trains?!”
Sam, Doug and Julie’s eldest, is a big fan of trains, and especially Thomas the Tank Engine – I’m sure he’d love our trip!
Fact of the day
New Zealand has three official languages: English, Maori and New Zealand sign language.