Friday, March 16, 2018

Touring the North Island - Day 1

I slept marginally well, but was awake at 5am due to jet lag anyway.  It ended up being an extremely stressful morning here in Auckland.  It could have mostly been prevented I suppose, but "hindsight is 20-20", as they say.  I attempted to use the Uber app again in the morning (it wouldn't work the night before), but had no luck.  I called two taxi companies, but both said it would take half an hour before a car could get to me.  I called Haka Tours and warned them that I would probably be late since I was having trouble getting to the meet up location.  She told me which bus to catch, but of course that was not simple either (I waited at the wrong stop and attempted to wave down 2 of the buses but they waved me off - I finally got to the right stop to be picked up).  Once I finally got on the bus, and was almost to the stop I needed, I got an email from the tour company.  Apparently I was heading to the wrong meet up location!  They gave me the new location and the number for a taxi company.  I arrived 40 minutes late to the tour orientation, but they didn't have to wait for me and I still got some breakfast so I guess it ended well.

The group is a nice mix of ages, couples, and solo travelers.  We spent most of the day driving, but we did stop at Mount Eden on our way out of Auckland for some lovely views of the city.  From there we headed towards the Coromandel.  We stopped at Thames (they pronounce it Tims), the largest town in the Coromandel, for a lunch break.  I had a mince meat pie, how I've missed them!  From there we continued the drive, it's extremely winding, following the coast and going up over the mountains.

  The town where we're staying the evening is called Whitianga (but it seems a WH is pronounced as an 'f' so that was odd).  Here we got to "carve" our own tiki pendant from bone.  In reality we were mostly sanding, they had already cut the shapes out for us.  There were 3 choices and I chose the Koru for my pendant.  It was a very interesting task and the gentleman was incredibly talented; some of his pieces were amazing. 
Arturo is a master carver!  He explained the process and
would fix any mistakes we made.

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