Our adventure in New Zealand started in Auckland on the north island. They call it the City of Boats – and we could see why. We were staying in Ponsonby, and on our first full day walked downtown along the harbor before boarding a ferry to Devonport, a small town on the far side of the peninsula. After an amazing “brekkie” of avocado toast and pumpkin scone, we climbed Mount Victoria. They had turned the vents into little mushrooms that overlooked the bay.
Back in town, we walked all the way to Auckland Domain, a large city park that featured amazing trails like “Lover’s Walk” where we got our first taste of the New Zealand flora and bird life (and arachnids!). The forests here felt both familiar and wildly different. Our journey ended at the Wintergarden, a palatial-on-a-small-scale conservatory with a nice courtyard and some beautiful flowers.
Later that day, the road took us west before going south, to Piha and Kitekite Falls. We took an evening walk/hike to reach the falls through what felt like a rain forest, with wild palms and big ferns. The water falls were impressive, and people came to swim in the pool below.
As the sun was getting lower, we planted ourselves at Tasman Overlook with a view of Piha. It was breathtaking, as the ocean waves cascaded into Lion’s Rock and the beach.
The next morning, as the sun rose, we stopped through One Tree Hill, a park with a herd of sheep grazing alongside early morning runners and an obelisk. One Tree Hill is the site of an old Māori pa, or fortification.