Mack’s Craic

29Sep12
Auckland, we crossed that bridge when we came to it.

Auckland, we crossed that bridge when we came to it.

We’re going around the world in twenty-five days, one day for every year we’ve been married.

Day 8 Sydney, Auckland, Whangarei:

There’s something homely and familiar about New Zealand.

We crossed the Tasman for the third time this week and landed in Auckland on a wet and windy Friday, just after 3:00pm. Good job we didn’t come here for the weather. We’re back to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We were married in Northland on October 3rd 1987 and Julie’s parents still live there.

Flying into Whangarei is quite exciting and because of the location of the airport and wild cross winds. It can be a bit scary. My favorite bit is flying over Marsden Point Oil Refinery where I was working as a pipefitter when Julie and I first met. Julie hasn’t seen her parents for four years. She couldn’t wait for the moment when we walked across the tarmac and hugged them. But we got some bad news at Auckland Airport. Our flight to Whangarei was canceled because the weather was too bad for them to land. Air New Zealand offered to put us on a bus. It meant a three and a half hour road trip instead of a 40 minute flight.

Eventually they announced that the bus to Whangarei was leaving. We went outside and saw a minibus towing a trailer marked ‘luggage’. There were a lot of people waiting because three twenty-seater aircraft had been cancelled and been replaced by minibuses that could seat twelve. It got even worse when the rep told us, “You’re not booked on this one or the next one. You’ll be on the one after that.”

We’d planned to pick up a rental car at Whangarei Airport so switched the booking and picked it up at Auckland Airport instead. Three hours after landing, we headed north in a rented Toyota Camry hybrid.

Things were going fine till the motorway ran out. It just disappeared after about five miles. They haven’t finished building it and by the look of it, don’t have plans to start the work on the rest of it any time soon.

There are no signposts to direct you to State Highway 1, even though it’s the main road north. We got hopelessly lost. First we ended up at Eden Park where a rugby match was about to start, so roads were closed and diversions were in place. Later we found ourselves driving down Queen Street, Auckland’s main shopping street. Friday night shopping is a tradition in New Zealand and we’d managed to get ourselves on the busiest street in the country at the busiest time. It was bumper to bumper.

Julie checked our travel paperwork and discovered that if we didn’t make it to our motel in Whangarei by 9:00pm, the reception would be closed and we wouldn’t be able to check in.

Eventually we found the “Coat Hanger” which is what Kiwis call the Auckland Harbor Bridge. It was built in the 1950’s with four lanes but turned out to not be wide enough. In 1965 another two lanes either side were attached. Because the work was done by a Japanese contractor, the outside lanes are known as the “Nippon Clip-on”.

After we’d crossed the Waitemata Harbour, with the rain lashing down, in total darkness, the road got narrower, the hills got steeper and the bends got tighter. We weren’t sure that we could make the 9:00pm deadline. Julie called the motel. The lady at the reception said, “We’ll have gone home by the time you get here so I’ll just leave the key in the door for you”.

As it turned out, we made it in time but it was good to know that even if you lose your way and arrive late, in New Zealand the door is always open.

There’s a Craic around the world!

Check out the Mack Nuggets at http://www.mackmedia.co.uk

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