January 7th After disembarking the Encore we checked into our hotel - Crown Plaza - which we had stayed at in the past. Our flight on Singapore Airlines was delayed for a couple of hours, but the flight to Auckland was pleasant and we were able to sleep most of the way.
January 8th We decided to check into the Auckland Airport Hotel for a day to adjust to the time change.
January 9th A prearranged limo picked us up and drove us to Mount Maunganui. I have driven in New Zealand on many occasions, but decided it would be better to wait a few days before renting a car and get accustomed to vehicles driving on the left in a more relaxed area than the roads around Auckland. We rented an apartment at the Pavilion Waterfront Hotel in Mount Maunganui..
January 10th to 29th Last year when we were on an extended Seabourn Cruise we had stops in a number of New Zealand cities. It really hit home how much we enjoy New Zealand and decided to cancel a number of cruises we had booked in 2017, and instead spend our winter in New Zealand.
Rather than traveling both the North and South Islands as we had on six previous occasions this year we decided to just concentrate on a couple of places on the North Island that we enjoyed so much during our previous six land based trips. The first place we chose was Mount Maunganui.
Mount Maunganui is a district of the city of Tauranga, which is a port most cruise lines include in itineraries to New Zealand. Cruise ships were in port most days, including some of the monsters, but most passengers go on tours to places like Rotorura and Hobbiton, so they were really not roaming around the area we stayed at.
We enjoyed the area and took a number of trips to surrounding points of interest.
January 30th Enjoyed scenic drive to Napier via the Thermal Highway
Jan 31st to Feb 5th Napier is know as the Art Deco City. It was destroyed by a the 1931 Hawk's Bay Earth Quake and rebuild in the art deco style in vogue at that time. We stayed at the same motel we did in 2008, and found not much had changed since then. Unfortunately the cruise industry in its quest to find new ports has started to add Napier to its itineraries. I expect the city will start to lose some of its quaintness over the next few years.
We did a bit of touring, but for the most part just enjoyed walking about the city.
February 6th We drove from Napier to Ohope Beach which is not too far from Mount Maunganui,,a new destination for us. We had a spacious penthouse apartment looking over the harbor from the living room and ocean from the bedroom. Definitely a place we would like to return to.
Feb 16th to 27th Whitianga is on the Coromandel Peninsula. The apartment we rented was a penthouse overlooking the ocean. We enjoyed several day trips, including one to the town of Coromandel which had not changed from the way we remembered it.
February 28th We drove to Matakohe via Auckland and stayed at the Matakohe B&B, a very nice place which we would recommend.
March 1st My main purpose in driving along the west coast was to stop to see the giant kauri trees. It is hard to believe much of the north of New Zealand was covered with these trees when Europeans first arrived. We stayed at the Opononi Lighthouse hotel.
March 16th to 31stThe drive to Auckland was pleasant. We checked into the Qay West and dropped off our rental car. We enjoy Auckland and just lazed about without any particular agenda. The building activity is at a high level. In addition to new high rise buildings a new commuter train system is under construction and causes many traffic jams with closed streets and detours.