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New Zealand: Whangarei

Whangarei from Parakaki
The view of Whangarei from Parakaki

Whangarei was the first place I visited outside Auckland. Ten days after I landed in New Zealand, I found myself heading north for two hours in a hire car, stopping only to avoid a lorry that had managed to overturn and block both lanes of the main road; the roads in New Zealand twist and turn wickedly and are rarely level, what with all the hills, mountains, valleys and forests in the way, and the journey made me extremely glad that I'd aborted the crazy idea of cycling round New Zealand before it had even got off the ground. I don't know if the rugged terrain is the reason for the slightly dubious quality of New Zealand's driving, but it certainly can't help.

Rotary in Whangarei

I visited Whangarei for the second time, just as I was about to finish off my trip round New Zealand. From Thames I shot straight through Auckland to Whangarei, coming across my first real rush hour for months. Whangarei was hot and humid, but seeing Peter and his family again was worth the effort. I discovered that mixing Kahlua and milk is delicious (and is called a 'brown cow' by middle-aged Kiwis, though their children just look at them in despair when they tell you that), and after visiting schools with Peter all day, I was invited to a meeting of the Whangarei North Rotary Club. Now that was an interesting experience.

1 As well as the sense of humour. I must thank Hank, the male half of the couple, for my first taste of Kiwi humour:

Two paedophiles on a beach, one says to the other, 'Hey! Get out of my son!'

Well, I laughed, anyway.