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Touring New Zealand 2019 - part 1
North Island

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Introduction

North island

Journey and Arrival: We flew from the UK out of Heathrow with Singapore airlines via Singapore rather than the USA which avoids suffering the senseless abuse from American immigration. It was a dual badged flight with Air New Zealand. We had 3 hours at Singapore Airport which is one of the better ones for a connection and even runs trips round town if you have a long enough connection time. We went round the butterfly garden and used the free Wifi but did not have the time to make a lounge worthwhile.

We picked up the usual cheap taxi to take us to Rental Car Village to collect our van. Grant had previously emailed to say he had picked out a good van with two side doors for us. We have been using Rental Car Village (used to be Thomlinson) for nearly twenty years and they have always given us excellent service. The vans are not new but are well maintained and we have done huge mileages and taken them everywhere with far less problems than our cars at home which do far less milage every year. We generally do not actually sleep in them but that is because we have so much kit stored in NZ which includes a tent which is probably big enough to drive the van into! Again we have written a lot in the past so will just keep to repeating that we are very happy to recommend them. We rang and booked the ferry to Waiheke as soon as we had picked up the van and knew the time it would take. In practice we made good time and changed our ticket to the earlier ferry which was just arriving as we did.

9-13 January - Waiheke

It was then time to head to my niece Jenny and Kev and their daughters Kerri and Jaz on Waiheke Island who were back from college in Dunedin. We went across on one of the Sealink ferries from Half Moon Bay. We turned up early just as loading was being completed on an earlier ferry and were able to drive straight on. Our tickets were cheap as there is currently a little publicised special deal for rental vehicles which is as cheap as the residents deal for trips starting in Waiheke. What was even better is that it covers the drive through ferries whilst other cheap deals often involve the reverse on smaller freight oriented ferries.

Jenny and Kev's house is set on the hillside above Takirau bay, a deserted beach beside a reserve with the most magnificent Pohutakawa trees. The beach has excellent swimming and the rocks at either end are supposed to be very good for fishing. Kev keeps a canoe down by the beach so one is never short of things to do. The house has a separate flat underneath which we usually make use of.

Waiheke is the largest of the Islands in the Hauraki Gulf other than the Barrier Islands with a permanent population of about 7000. Frequent passenger ferries serve it from downtown Auckland allowing commuting for work as well as the car ferries from Half Moon Bay, which we used. It is primarily a holiday destination with the population quadrupling or more in the summer with many baches as well as more conventional accommodation. Jenny and Kev have had a series of baches, which were available on short, and long term lets as well a the flat under their house.

Baches (also called cribs in some areas) were, and still are, are a very Kiwi thing. They started as extremely basic holiday accommodation in deserted areas, often coastal, built out of wood, fibrolite and corrugated iron (or whatever came to hand). Many have been in the same family for many generations and progressively extended. The Oxford Dictionary tells us the term Bach is derived from the same root as bachelor - an undomesticated person living alone in simple surroundings. Baches were very much DIY enterprises and are often camouflaged to blend into the surroundings and built by those with empathy for the land. There was a brief period when there were moves to close some of them down but the important part they have played in the heritage of NZ is now recognised.

Baches were places to get away from it all, for fishing not phones and books not TV. The originals were without electricity and with a long drop hidden nearby. Water came from a tank filled from the roof and the more sophisticated added an outside washtub and mangle. They were a place for lace curtains, candlewick bedspreads and homemade rugs on a varnished floor. Bunks were the norm and curtains closed off doorways. Outside would be a shower on the wall, a smoker for fish and a barbecue or a fire pit. As time went on some gained electricity and a Zip heater with its steam whistle and cutout - many live on. Some baches even gained a huge curved front fridge, more for the fish than anything else and gradually oil lights and candles have been replaced by electric lights, even if the bulbs remain bare. Baches often started out as something else - an old caravan or tram, extended and surrounded till the original disappeared.

Jenny and Kev had a number of upgraded baches used as rental properties and they had been good enough to store all our kit in a dry ‘cellar’ under one of those. We keep almost everything in large storage bins which keep out most of the dirt, water and wild life and can be moved straight into the van and we also have a few round totally waterproof containers for more sensitive items and the kit we take sailing. That only leaves big items like fishing rods and folding chairs loose which are at risk. Unfortunately they have sold most of their baches as they are buying properties in Dunedin so our kit is now in a small container shared with them.

We do not have a lot worth writing about during our time in Waiheke - the usual Indian at Ajadz's on a Thursday which is always good and an excellent meal at the new 372 restaurant which is next to Charlie Farleys which we were told is run by the original owners of Charlie Farleys which they sold on condition they did not compete for 5 years which is now up and they have set up on the section of land they retained. The name comes from the dialling code 372 common to all Waiheke numbers. We had a very pleasant day sailing on Shanti with Kev, mostly just using the Jib or engine as a replacement mainsail is being cut for her.

We went to the Whakanewha Regional Park which covers 250 hectares is on the south side of Waiheke Island on the edge of Rocky Bay - it was only a short drive for us. Whakanewha means "to shade the eyes from the setting sun." It has a mature coastal forest with taraire, kohekohe and old kanuka trees, cascading streams, and a sweeping crescent-shaped beach of sand and shells divided by a rocky and forested headland. An old Maori pa site on the headland is easily discernible and here are panoramic views over Rocky Bay to Auckland if you take the well signed walk up to the pa. There is a campground located just behind the southern end of the beach at Poukaraka Flats. The large wetland area is home to some uncommon birds, bittern, banded rail, spotless crake and the New Zealand dotterel. We arrived close to high tide and the water was very shallow even then but fairly warm so Pete had a swim and we set up our chairs on the foreshore. As the tide fell a broad expanse of sandy tidal flats was revealed.

The highlight for us at the Whakanewha Regional Park is always the Dotterels. The shell spit near the middle of the beach close to where we sit is close to the annual nesting ground for several pairs of the endangered northern New Zealand dotterel. Only about 1700 of these birds, endemic to New Zealand, remain. People on the beach are strongly encouraged to avoid getting too close to the sensitive birds and not to linger near the fenced area where the birds lay their eggs in shallow scrapes in the sand. In our case it seemed to be quite the opposite - we had several pairs of Dotterels coming along to see us and walking back and forth in front of us at the waterline - they seemed completely fearless and came up to only a few feet below us to watch what we were doing. We took dozens of pictures without any effect on them. This trusting behaviour must make them very vulnerable to predators and we saw there were lots of traps and warnings that there were poison baits laid.

There are many walking tracks within the park the most notable being the track to the pa site above the beach and the walk to the Cascades. The Cascades are a series of cascading waterfalls, said by some to be behind the naming of the island - Waiheke or falling water. We did a short walk down the beach to the picnic area beneath some huge pohutakawa trees - we have maps for some of the longer walks.

Sunday 13 January -> Ohaeawai

We caught the ferry back to Auckland early on Sunday morning and met up with David and Sarah to have a look at his new Catamaran, very nice and luxurious and with more space compared to Pengwyn which he had built himself. The time catching up and looking over the yacht went all too quickly but we had a long drive North to Christine's new property near Kaikohe at Ohaeawai which is on the State Highway 1 almost level with the Bay of Islands.

Monday 14 January - Ohaeawai, Kerikeri and Mission House

We spent three days with Christine. Her new property has a significant amount of ground with it and a number of existing buildings. Being in the Bay of Islands area, the climate and ground is very favourable to fruit and she has an orchard with many fruit trees and a significant sized banana plantation which had a couple of dozen hands of ripening bananas and she had already harvested a good number. There were avocado trees, plums, oranges and lemons - all ripe. We left with a stock which lasted us for weeks including a whole hand of green bananas - we eventually found that you can ripen them selectively by putting a bunch in a paper bag. Like many fruit they produce ethylene and if you trap it they ripen much faster, they can be 'forced' in as little as 24 hours. Unfortunately we discovered this a little late and had a banana crisis which led to eating 5 or 6 each of the beautifully succulent little bananas a day for the last few days. You will find a series of pictures of our 'travels with bananas' following. The avocados were also some of the best we have ever had but pictures of avocados are less exciting.

Kerikeri: We took one tour as far as Kerikeri where we stopped in town and also went down to have a look at the Stone Store and Kemp House (the first Mission House) which are both part of Heritage NZ . They have a lot of fascinating material on the early missionary days and their 'trading post' which one can see on the first floor of the Stone Store. The missionaries struck some hard bargains with Maori, both written and unwritten and changed the balance of power dramatically in the early days by sales of muskets to the local tribes.

It becomes more clear why change was so rapid at the time and also the roots of many of the problems leading up to the Treaty of Waitangi and following it. It needs to be covered more fully and with more evidence but, for example, the contract purchase of the land for the missionaries has been put on display. They bought 13000 acres (about 20 square miles) for 48 axe heads according to the contract but there was also an understanding that 12 muskets plus a double barrelled gun and a passage to England were an unwritten part of the bargain. There were some problems with Marsden, one of the most influential missionaries delivering the guns but arrangements were made by others of the missionaries for a thousand extra guns to be traded for more land in Hokianga during the visit to England. These guns completely changed the balance of power in most of Northern New Zealand and were considered, even in those times, a rather unconventional way of setting about the process of conversion to Christianity.

Waimate North Mission We then went on to see the Te Waimate North Mission House which used to have the oldest oak tree in NZ but it has just, rather suddenly died. The Waimate North Mission House which has links with Lichfield. The mission and associated church was set up as a largely self-contained farm unit, a model farm to reduce the dependence of the mission from dependence on Maori and to train Maori to farm in a civilised way. The remaining building, the second oldest in New Zealand, has been restored back to the original layout - it is well worth a diversion to look round. One can also visit the nearby and associated Bedggood buildings that preserve the ruins of a cottage, a reconstruction of the blacksmith's shop together with archeologically features and historic trees in a pastoral landscape. They were part of the village and home and workplace of John Bedggood, missionary, wheelwright, blacksmith, miller and politician. Nearby one can admire the first Oak tree imported to New Zealand, probably for oak barrels, however we were surprised to find on this visit to see that oak tree appears almost if not completely dead, a sudden and unexpected change. The missionaries also built the first road to link the Mission Farm to the Stone Store at Kerikeri where they planned to store the produce.

The Waimata North Mission House is an integral part of the Historic Places properties in the Bay of Islands, namely the Mission and Bedggood buildings at Waimate the Kemp House and Stone Store at Kerikeri and the Pompallier House at Russell. They all played important roles in the early days when it was the most important area of contact in New Zealand culminating in the signing of the treat of Waitangi.

Tuesday 15 January -> Athenree

Athenree Hot Springs and Holiday Park We continued south to stay at a camp site we have visited before on the coast near Waihi which has hot springs and a thermal pool – the Athenree Hot Springs and Holiday Park - it is excellent. It has a limited number of cabins and although we had no problem last year in mid February it is prudent to book ahead before 20th January or on Friday/Saturday nights. There is a large hot spring pool big enough to swim which has no chemical treatments but has the water changed every night and an even hotter smaller pool at about 38.5 degrees C which sits a dozen people. The water is not full of salts like in Rotorua and is like silk on the skin. On an earlier visit we spent a long time talking to Alan and his wife who also have an old wooden yacht that they have recently bought from Whangaparapara in Great Barrier and now have at Whitianga. - they used to be farmers up the Coromandel. We went into the hot pools in evening and in the morning had another session before leaving.

 

Wednesday 16 January Napier and the Hawke's Bay Wineries

Napier: Next morning was a gentle start for the drive to Napier. It was an easy drive on good main roads to Napier using the Taupo bypass. We fuelled first because there is no fuel along the SH5 between Taupo and the Esk Valley. It seems to always be sunny in Hawke's Bay and we were not disappointed as we drove over the hills and down towards the coast.

We stayed at the Westshore Holiday Park which is about 5 kms from the centre of Napier. We had one of our favourite kitchen cabin booked for 3 nights which has a bit more space, especially when we come for the Art Deco weekend. The cabins have been recently done up and our usual one has nice new single beds but we could drag them together so no problem. They also have free wifi (150 Mbytes) and the cabin had a good strong signal so we could preserve our Vodafone data. Before continuing it is worth giving a little background on Napier - if you have read this before then skip the next couple of paragraphs.

Napier now known as The Art Deco Capital of the World started life as a copy of an English seaside resort. It is renowned for its warm sunny climate, location in Hawke's Bay and its Marine Parade is lined with tall pines. It had fine hotels, botanical gardens and bands playing in a rotunda in the square. All that was to change at 1045 on Tuesday, 3rd of February 1931 when a violent earthquake struck - in less than three minutes Napier crumpled to ruins. Both Chemist shops caught fire and a brisk easterly wind spread the flames. The earthquake destroyed almost every water pipe and the fire brigade could do little and only a small area was saved from the flames. The earthquake registered 7.9 on the Richter scale and 258 people were killed mostly by falling masonry from highly decorated buildings with overhanging structures.

Napier the Victorian town was gone and England offered no inspiration to the re-builders with their clean slate in 1931 but the architectural journals of America were full of interesting ideas in particular Modernism which we now know as Art Deco. Nowhere else do we find so many similar style buildings built over a period of only a couple of years to a common plan. Many of the buildings remain and even in the time we have been going to Napier the restoration and painting has further enhanced the city. It is well worth staying in Napier for a day or two to savour the atmosphere. It is also an excellent centre for the Hawke's Bay area, famous for its wines. There are references to an excellent book on Art Deco Napier and links to web sites on our site - search for Napier or Art Deco.


Thursday 17 January

The first visit of the morning was to visit Esk Valley winery, and buy some of the Merlot-Cabernet-Malbec. Their 2013 Merlot-Cabernet-Malbec was a trophy winner in 2014 and we had purchased so many last year that we some left for several years but we have now run out. It is a beautiful bordeaux blend. Sue persuaded us to do a tasting but we did not make many purchases as the Esk Valley wines are widely available and we can buy more on our travels.

In the afternoon we took a drive into town past the port and parked just before the convention centre as usual. There is a new pier-cum-viewing platform behind the Soundshell which gives good views back along the beach. After an amble round town where we managed to buy one of the Craig Potten diaries that we have an almost complete collection of. We drove up to the Bluff lookout where one can look down on the port and watched a small cruise ship manoeuvre in the very restricted port area. It is just big enough for the Cunard Queens Elizabeth and Victoria.

Napier Botanical Gardens: On the way back down we tried to visit the botanical gardens and eventually found them on the map on the phone. The Botanical Gardens are sited high above Napier on the bluff. The gardens can be traced right back to the creation of Napier - the Crown purchased the site of Napier (640 acres) for £50 in 1855. From the very start 18 of the 640 acres was reserved for Botanical Gardens, and another 4.5 acres was set aside for a cemetery which was expected to be linked to the Botanical Gardens. Such foresight was rare and provisions for “Botanical Reserves” were only made in Wellington, Napier, Christchurch, and Dunedin. The Hospital Hill site chosen seemed to lack promise due to difficult hilly terrain but extensive use was made of prison labour for the planting of trees and the laying out of paths and terraces. To combat droughts during those early years, use was made of the wells that were sunk in the lower gardens for the 65th Regiment. Each season the caretaker Mr Burton planted more decorative trees and shrubs, many of which are still present today.

Many of the today's fine trees come from seedlings brought by captains of visiting ships to the Napier Port. In later years elaborate patterned flowerbed displays were developed within the Gardens. Although never intended to be a true representation of an “English” botanical garden, the Napier Botanical Gardens became a source of great civic pride. However the family car led to progressively fewer people visiting so an aviary was built and a duck pond was added at the main entrance to the gardens. A tree identification program was initiated so the specimens could be named - in keeping with the concept of a botanical garden. It has recently had an even more extensive restoration and is beautifully maintained and well worth a visit. Unfortunately it was late in the afternoon so we had less time than we would have liked to look round - looking back we had our first visit in 2010 and have been back several times since so we cannot understand why they had not been pinged on the GPS to make them easy to find - they are now!

Friday 18 January

Elephant Hill: The next day we went to Elephant Hill, arguably the best vineyard restaurant round Napier. We got there quite early and had plenty of time to have a wine tasting before sitting down for lunch. Lunch was memorable. The location is super with views out across the mirror pool to the vineyard. We normally sit outside. The service was excellent with stiffly starched napkins - a detail missing from so many restaurants. The breads came with an excellent olive oil and a small granite dish of sea salt. This year we missed the starters so we could get to the sweets. Pete's Smoked Venison was some of the best venison we have ever had, red but so tender. The sweets were not only excellent tasting but were beautifully presented - the only problem was the sorbets were melting whilst Pete was getting the pictures!

We staggered out and decided to go up to Te Mata Peak and admire the views whilst recovering. It looks out over all the vineyards and the whole of Hawke's Bay. Right below is the distinctive Craggy Range Winery and Vineyard, a close competitor with Elephant Hill and an exporter to the UK. The Club in London has some of their wines.

We also drove down and into Craggy Range to have a look at their current menu - the restaurant and winery is a most interesting design building and we took some pictures and walked round their lake.

Saturday 19 January - Inland Patea

We were packed and ready to travel early today so decided to take a backroads route to Wellington via the Napier-Taihape Road. Most people travel from Napier to Wellington on SH2, which is 313kms and takes about 5 hours. There is a warning on leaving the edge of Napier on the Napier-Taihape road that there is no fuel for 135 kms. After reaching Taihape, which is 152kms due west of Napier, there is still 203 kms south to Wellington. It is a long day of driving but the road is pleasant although it is winding with some steep hills and the scenery is superb.

The Napier Taihape backroad is a Heritage Trail, only recently sealed for its entire length going over Gentle Annie. We first heard about it many years ago from some other campers at Lake Tutira who sent some information sheets to us in England. It is now one of a network of Heritage Trails which are sponsored by the New Zealand Visitor Network and the local District Councils. They all have information sheets and the main features are numbered and often have display boards on the ground giving something of the history etc. Their markers use cream/pale yellow letters on a, usually very faded, teal green background so are easy to recognise as are their information sheets which have a similar colour scheme.

The route which we know as "Gentle Annie" is officially known as the Inland Patea Heritage Trail and crosses the Dividing Range through an area of great natural beauty and historic interest where earth movements have created unusual mountains with limestone scarps with natural forest. It started as the route of an old Maori Trail from the East coast to the centre of North Island. In the 15th century one of the most famous Maori leaders Tamatea Pokai Whenui (Tamatea means he who explored the land) arrived in NZ on the Takitumu canoe and traveled the trail with his son Kanungunu. Many of the place names near the trail are called after the animals he carried in his basket.

Later Patea, a Maori living at Manawarakau, traveled the trail. Legend says he went on a hunting expedition for a long time and returned with a poor bag to find his woman had filled his storehouse. Her incessant nagging on how poor a hunter he was led him to take her for a walk off a cliff. Rather than face her relatives he fled into the wild country west of the ranges where he remained in what came to be called Patea's Country, a huge tract bounded by the dividing Ranges, Mount Ruapehu and Taihape. The Name gained the Inland to avoid confusion with the town of Patea. For 50 years the Inland Patea's main port was Napier and everything was packed on horses over the ranges. By the 1870s the Inland Patea had vast Stations with Merino sheep and transport was a tremendous undertaking - typical stations could be sheering up to 75,000 sheep and packing the wool over the ranges on strings of pack horses. The strings were hundreds strong with one man to each string of ten. Mules were also used and one in five animals carried provisions and fodder for the trip. Each pack animal carried 200 pounds (91 kgs) and riding ahead were hunters with dogs providing fresh food.

It was a dangerous job and it was not unknown for animals to lose their footing on the narrow rocky path over the precipitous "Gentle Annie" and plunge to their end in the Ngaruroro Gorge a hundred meters below. Panic could easily spread with the rest of the team following. They eventually returned with mail and supplies. This used to be the busiest and longest trail in New Zealand and remained so until Gold Fever struck and eventually in 1908 the railway was opened up to Wellington.

The day was clear and hot and the views all across to the central mountains were stunning. We did not have time to take all the side trips we have done in the past and unusually we did not stop for the night on Gentle Annie in one of the DOC camp sites close to Kuripapango on the banks of the Ngaruroro River. Kuripapango is named after a Wanganui Maori warrior who was killed and eaten whilst trying to invade Hawke's Bay in the 17th century. There are several camping sites, the main one used to be down by the river and the track down was a bit broken up. That now seems to be only for anglers in the day and a new site has been set up nearby.

There was not much traffic, mostly local not tourists. We had a short stop to change drivers and have coffee and biscuits at the informal camping ground by the old Springvale Suspension Bridge over the Rangitikei river which had informal camping for anglers at the rivers edge beneath it. The bridge was built by William Salt in 1923 and traffic is now carried by by a modern replacement which takes traffic over the historic ford. There is a swimming hole just above the bridge and Pete has swum there in the past - it is perfect with a hole perhaps 4 meters deep carved out by the eddies below a set of rapids, clean cool water and a back eddy so one did not have to continually battle the current. It is now listed as it one of the last of that design remaining and The only disappointment of the drive across was that the road is now completely sealed and we fear there will be more rental cars and campervans using the route.

 

 

Joining the main SH1 at Taihape we headed south. Our previous notes showed a free camping ground at Vinegar Hill which we could see beneath us from the road. It had good facilities with flush toilets and showers and large grassy areas suitable for a tent. There were only a few people there, mostly snuggled into the edge of the bank of the Rangitikei river. Continuing along SH1 through Bulls it was time for an ice cream. Then we rushed past Foxton which we usually visit to buy stoneground flour from the old Dutch windmill.

Having left Napier early we reached the Top10 Holiday Park at Lower Hutt at 1500. Our prepaid reservation meant that we quickly checked-in and the cabin was at the end of a block. It is much easier than pitching a tent for one night after a long day.

Sunday 20 January - Wellington

It is only a short distance into Wellington from Lower Hutt and we planned to do some shopping in Wellington before catching the lunchtime Bluebridge Ferry. Having paid but not been able to print our ticket we stopped at the Departures building and collected the paperwork and were allowed to leave the van at a front corner of the departure lane. We were close to the Railway Station and the Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) Law Library where Pauline has donated a copy of her LLM dissertation “Assisted Dying: comparisons between England and New Zealand” - she spent some time researching in the Law library in 2015 and had promised them that she would donate a copy of the dissertation when she have been successfully awarded her degree.

The VUW Law School and its library is in the Old Government Building which is situated on Lambton Quay in Wellington. It is one of the largest wooden building in the world. It was completed in the same month in 1876 that provincial government in New Zealand ended and initially housed the entire Wellington-based civil service as well as the entire New Zealand Cabinet. It was originally planned to have the building constructed in concrete and timber, but the cost of concrete led to a decision to build in timber alone. The building was constructed to resemble an Italian stone palace to help convey its strength and stability in the expanding empire. The timber is native kauri and the wooden construction has been a major factor in its surviving subsequent earthquakes - it is situated near a major fault line. When it opened in 1876, after 22 months of construction, and at a cost of £39 000, it was easily the largest building in the country and is arguably now New Zealand's most important historic building.

The building was extended in 1897 and again in 1907, with additions to the wings. It has been extensively restored and many original features were replicated, including fireplaces although these are now purely decorative. The original totara piles were replaced with concrete. Over 500 cubic metres of recycled kauri was used during the restoration project, to supplement the original timber. Verandahs, late Victorian and Edwardian water radiators, the original clock and coat of arms, a water-powered hydraulic lift, and the impressive staircases were all restored or preserved. Wherever possible the building was to be restored to its 1907 appearance, when the north and south wing extensions were completed. The project spanned two years and cost $25 million. Fire concerns led to it becoming the first building in the world to have a smoke-free policy.

Wellington is always very quiet on a Sunday but some shops are open in the morning. The Kathmandu shop and its nearby Outlet shop both had Sales. The first shop had a good selection with another Lime Green fleece so we have a matching pair and the second provided some much needed walking socks. So we both had successful shopping. The shops were close to the Civic Square and Jervois Quay and we had time to walk round the waterside.

Wellington Cathedral of St Paul: It was after services were likely to have finished when we went to the Cathedral of St Paul to deliver some coffee from Lichfield Cathedral. Pauline was born near Lichfield, was confirmed at the Cathedral of St Chad, and has maintain her links by becoming a Friend. There is a connection between New Zealand and Lichfield which is not well-known. Bishop George Augustus Selwyn (1809-1878) is buried in the Cathedral grounds and there is his impressive recumbent effigy resting on a tomb chest in one of the side chapels of the Lady Chapel. It is surrounded by colourful and NZ themed images. Bishop Selwyn arrived in the Bay of Islands as the first Anglican Bishop of NZ in 1842 and finally returned to the UK as Bishop of Lichfield from 1868 to 1878. We knew there had been a visit from Wellington Cathedral to Lichfield in 2002 and we met Revd. John McCaul who had taken part in the visit. We also hope to visit the new Cathedral at Auckland later this year.

Bishop Selwyn first purchased some land in 1845 then more was added in 1853, enabling the first church to be built. St Paul’s was completed in 1866 and was the pro-cathedral of the Diocese of Wellington between 1866 and 1964 when the new cathedral of St Paul was dedicated. Old St Paul's was not demolished and now belongs to the NZ Government managed by Heritage New Zealand (similar to the UK National Trust). The new cathedral of St Paul was designed in the 1930s, construction began in 1954, and it was finally completed in 1998. The two cathedrals are very different in construction : Old St Paul’s is wooden whereas St Paul’s is made of reinforced concrete was designed to withstand earthquakes. The organ dates back to 1880 largely coming from the earlier Cathedral but has been completely rebuilt and extended to have 3500 pipes, 81 stops and 4 manuals on the master console as well as a two manual console down in the nave. We were fortunate on an earlier visit when it was being played during much of the time we were there. It also has the largest peal of bells in the Southern Hemisphere at 14 of which 8 bells came from a dismantled church in Northamptonshire. The other bells are new and three recast in Loughborough from bells from the previous St Pauls.

It was then back to the Railway station which has a New World supermarket for a last-minute purchase of food and wine for the evening. It always seems to have a very good selection of wines and we have found several of the Trophy winners there every visit. Being just across the road from our parking it was very convenient. The passage south was very calm unlike the previous day

The next part will start in South Island with Blenheim and the Marlborough Vineyards.

 

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Content revised: 25th April, 2019