20-22/12/15. We passed a quiet couple of days in Parakai.
On Sunday, when Christine returned from church, we took advantage of the reduced entry price to the swimming pool ($11 or £5). This had no “mineral pools” as such but the water is heated geothermally. In a climate like this even Christine could see the attraction of an outdoor pool on the last weekend before Christmas even if she didn’t actually go in the water! Clearly so could many other people who had obviously finished their shopping. We both took the opportunity to catch up on our reading, Stephen occasionally taking a dip or enjoying the flumes. A lazy day was followed by indulging ourselves with another sample of NZ’s delicious fish and chips.
Monday morning saw us taking a walk to the larger Helensville where we again availed ourselves of Auckland Region’s excellent library services and their Wifi. We followed this with a visit to the station which seems to be well maintained even though there are no trains! On the way we crossed the river which was a bit of a poor excuse for a river when the tide was out!
In the evening we had a lovely time and dinner at the home of Christine and Graham who Christine had met at church.
It was time to move on! Amazingly, the first 12 or so km of the road on Tuesday morning were flat as we headed up the river valley towards the city. However, all too soon the hills started again. They were not as long or as steep as many that we had encountered but they kept on coming! One of the flatter roads had the charming name of Puke Road!
At a coffee stop a car pulled up and the driver took a close look at the bikes. He then said (in a German accent) that his father has two Roberts bikes at home! (For those who do not know our bikes were handmade at a small framebuilders in Croydon.) Eventually we reached Swanson, which appears to be connected by rail to Helensville but is the end of the line as far as passenger trains from Auckland is concerned. An hour’s ride through the suburbs and past Eden Park (home of the All Blacks) saw us arrive in the centre where, after a cold drink stop, we boarded the ferry to Devonport. This was the same trip as we had taken with Eleri just after we arrived in the country, some 3 ½ weeks ago but this time we cycled up the hill (inevitably!) mostly on cycle tracks to Takapuna where the campsite is in a stunning location right on the beach. We had taken the precaution of phoning to book as it is the site closest to the centre and we were glad we had done so as it was pretty much full at this busy time of year.