Piha Travel Blog› entry 59 of 206 › view all entries
Today we got up late again (surprise surprise) and formulated a plan for my final 2 days in Auckland. Unfortunately the weather has been too rubbish to do any of the outdoors excursions that are around Auckland and so we have saved all the remaining options up for tomorrow. The weather forecasting here is diabolical. Both Monday & today the forecast said it would be sunny, perhaps rain later in Auckland. I can assure you there has been no hint of sunshine. Not to mention, the weather channel helpfully describes the weather right now, but not tomorrow's forecast. Do I need to know what the weather is like in Auckland now? No, I can look out the window.....
So despite the crap weather we set off on a road trip to Piha, about 70 minutes drive away.
It is a beautiful little bay rising into lush, green hills and mountains, peppered with wooden dwellings. The landscape seems so English much of the time in Auckland, but here in Piha the hills and mountain vegetation look more like South American jungle, and the mist that hangs around the tips look like Japanese mountain mist. The beach itself is black sand, or volcanic ash mixed with some regular yellow sand. In the middle of the beach is Lion Rock, a rock formation in the shape of a lion lying down.
We parked the car on a side road and walked across the bridge to the beach. We walked up and down it, Andy choosing to take his shoes and socks off despite the rain in the hope of having warm, dry socks to put back on. We crossed the wash-out from the river carefully, trying to avoid the regular mini-flash flood that would soak my trainers, and walked up under the cliff formation to look out over the beach. The waves themselves approach the bay from two directions and they meet in the centre in a v-shape, something I've never seen before!
After wandering around a bit in the rain and cold we wandered back and then headed back to civilisation. I can't describe how unexpected my perception of New Zealand is. We appeared to have travelled quite a long way by the map, but turnings arrived much faster than on a UK map, high-lighting the smaller distances we were covering. Roads that seemed like A roads on the map were tiny, winding, B roads with imposing vegetation on both sides so that you felt almost claustrophobic and had to pay sharp attention to every new curve as it swiftly followed every last curve as we meandered up and down and round and round. Arriving back in Auckland the roads and shops seem almost American in their large billboard-style advertising and huge, sprawling industrial parks that cover miles and miles of huge, warehouse blocks housing discount shoes, electronic goods, books, camping gear etc. Attempting to shop at more than 2 of these shops would surely mean moving car parks as each block is about 100m from every other block. I realised on the way back that it would take some getting used to, New Zealand. In a weird way it's far more of a culture shock than Australia, as it is so similar to England in so many ways but then so unexpectedly different. I look forward to seeing the rest of the country.
Back at home we had some spaghetti and then Andy, Luke and I went out to see Perfect Creature at the Sylvia Centre, a vampire movie filmed in New Zealand. I figure I ought to see some NZ movies while I am here!