Most of our family live in Auckland along with a fair chunk of the entire population of New Zealand. As a result,  we are regular travellers on the congested highway between Kerikeri and Auckland.

Facing our third return trip in October, I suggested to Ruth that we take time out, on the return trip, in an area that we usually only too happy to whizz through. ‘Let’s stop off for a couple of nights and scratch beneath the surface of Wellsford‘. I saw what I though to be an affirmative-nod but it was early in the morning and, sans hearing aids, I missed Ruth’s caveat that I should check the diary to ensure that we didn’t have a reason to stay in Auckland an extra night’.

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The ‘cosy and sunny red loft’ was very comfortable, especially given the very reasonable price.

We don’t normally make last minute travel plans and of course when I did check the diary we did need to be in Auckland for an extra night – we had a ‘must-do’ appointment that we needed to get Ruth’s 93 year old mum too. The stopover plan was so last-minute that cancelling was not a ‘free’ option. Oh well, what’s a few extra kilometres and, it is not that far from Wellsford to Whangaparoa, pity about the state of the road and the volume of traffic though.

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The ducks n chooks gang make there way towards us on our arrival back on the second day. After having been mobbed the day before we were wise to their Blitzkrieg tactics.

My (Cliff’s) poorly thought out plan meant that we had to return to Wellsford and and then retrace our route back to Whangaparaoa. We arrived at the aribnb late in the afternoon and were greeted by the resident chickens and ducks who enthusiastically applied a ‘full court press’ as we emerged from the car. Oblivious to the dangers of a rural stay, I immediately stepped onto every offering of chicken and duck poo between the car and the door only realising this when Ruth pointed out the little trail I was leaving on the floor and of course reminding me of my propensity to step on any similar ofering left by annimals or birds anywhere in the World. I did reply that at least I got to see the World rather than just piles of poo.

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The westerly was howling up the harbour when we dropped into Port Albert.

Following our rerun through to Auckland the next morning,  we did get to spend the afternoon exploring the surrounding Wellsford area. We learnt about the hardship enduried by the non-comformist Albertlanders who, like so many of the early immigrants to New Zealand, made the long and arduous journey from Europe with the misconcetption that they would find developed towns similar to the ones they had left behind. Of course, most found nothing more than dense rainforest and hardship and in the case of Port Albert, isolation.

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If they were still landing the planes on this paddock I suspect we would see the pilots heroic efforts plastered all over YouTube. “10 places in the World where you do not want to land a plane”

The Atiu Creek Regional Park was a substantial farm that had been gifted to the people of Auckland and has been a Regional Park since 2008. Despite the heavy tourist traffic that we had already encountered on the main highway some 20km away, there was no sign of them out here. They don’t know what they are missing. It obviously has not made it into the Lonely Planet or other similar guide – yet.

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No it is not a picture of me when I realised that I had double booked the diary. Kind of looks like Ruth when I told her.

After this little episode, diary checking will be compulsory before we lock-in any future spur-of-the-moment comitments.

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The 947 square kilometre Kaipara Harbour has tidal tentacles everywhere.

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