ALWAYS READ THE FINE PRINT.....

Lesson Number One....

Stop and make a volcanic sand snowman every now and then.....

Lesson Number Two....

Most of my friends and family know that I like to organise "stuff". I love a good list, planning things ahead, working out different options in case things change... I am the queen of the backup plan. And do you know why?  I have this crazy need for everything to be perfect in my little brain.

So when we decided that part of our trip, we were going to "Wing It" ie not book anything, just choose random places as we drove along......I will let you imagine what thoughts went through my head.

Do we get that way as we get older? I certainly don't remember being like that in my 20's and 30's. 

Lesson Number Three....

I will never book Air B&B ever again. ( I have in the past and they have been great but this time around......)

I only booked two lots of accommodation and they were just....   ?**##**!!

This was our beautiful garden view at one of them. They neglected to show this shot promoting the apartment. 

Or why didn't they mention that the tip was 200 METRES UP THE ROAD and below, is this informative note in their folder.

 

Is it too hard to ask for the items below ??

1) Teas/herbal teas that do not have a use by date of 2003, 2008. Fresh tea would be nice!

2) Hairdryer, I don't want to lug mine from home.

3) Ironing board for my Virgo husband. Sure they could have provided one, but we certainly didn't feel like knocking on the door and asking at 7am in the morning.

4) Towels that are not RIPPED and so thin that they were almost transparent. . That is a no brainer

I will make sure next time I read the fine print and never ever assume!

Don't get me wrong we love staying in quirky and interesting places. Who wants to stay in luxury/generic hotels all the time? We like to mix it up and meet interesting owners and get inside info on the areas that we stay at.

I could go on but I can feel myself starting to breath faster and getting pissed off again. You may say first world problem.... I beg to differ. I will not name and shame these properties but will certainly let Air B & B know.

Lesson Number Four....

The biggest lesson by far.....when we started the "Wing It" part of our journey it turned out to be the best part of the trip. Relax Jools it will all be OK.......

N.Z has so much more to offer than lots of sheep and interesting accents. We had never been to the North Island and loved so many parts of it. Auckland was such a pretty city and the areas that we especially enjoyed were Ponsonby, Herne Bay, Parnell and the Viaduct precinct. Lots of bars and restaurants on Ponsonby road, here are two I would highly recommend if you are ever there. Moo Chow Chow delicious asian fusion food and if you want to go to a cool bar you must try Mekong Baby they do great cocktails and yummy bar food too.

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Houses are expensive in Herne Bay but we loved walking around looking at their cute factor.

Tiny harbour beaches and look no traffic....

Seafood everywhere and they love to smoke it too...

Bay of Islands was the part of NZ we were looking forward to most of all.

Scenery was stunning, but it was also very touristy, which one would expect. But sadly we were underwhelmed by the food. We even spoke to a few chefs back in Auckland about it, thinking that maybe we were being picky, but they agreed also. There was not even a seafood shop that you could buy fresh fish from. Surprised us! Most of the restaurant/cafe staff were from overseas and although nice, were not passionate about their jobs or the Bay Of Islands. 

The do a great sunset though ....

Now the next area which was a favourite of mine was the MATAKANA area. Just beautiful and we stayed in one of our "Winging It" places called Riverside Matakana which I would go back to in a heartbeat. Local Pacific Oysters....a glass of beer....ahhhh this is more like it. 

Enough beer it's time to visit a winery and we loved  Brick Bay Wines beautiful location, sculpture park and bonus, the food was excellent.  That cheeky Pinot was just right. Not too sweet...not too dry.

 

Do yourself a favour and visit the west coast - Waitakere Ranges. Just gob smackingly beautiful. Untouched! Not touristy! Friendly locals galore! Fresh seafood everywhere! 

Boats just sit up out of the water, till the tide comes back in again. 

Tides that go out a long long way.......windy roads....

But my favourite place was Piha Beach....

Volcanic sand that just stuck to everything....and twinkled like tiny little diamonds.

You want surf then you have come to the right place.....

North island beach homes are called Baches and I love the fact that so many of them just blend into the landscape and some almost disappear into the vegetation. 

Now how did we find out about Piha? From a lovely local waitress call Sharna, who we found to be friendly and enthusiastic, that I think should hold classes in efficiency and warmth. Just the type of person you want in hospitality. NOT ENOUGH OF THEM I SAY! The restaurant is called The Refreshment Room call in and say hi to Jemima, Serena, Tim and Aiden. Great chefs all of them. It's in the Auckland Metro top 50 for great value.

So did we do good winging it?

A big YES!

Have you got any stories on trips that did not quite go to plan?