Another work day – Christmas Day
Today our tour group grew by another 7 who joined this morning in Auckland. Americans plus a Swiss couple to join the man from UK, a lovely lady from Germany and a Swiss couple I already had aboard for 3 days up the Northland region.
The roads were relatively quiet being it was Christmas Day and most New Zealand people would be spending that day with their families. For me, a work day. It started with collecting the 11 in the group from the Sebel Hotel Auckland and taking them to the Grand Mercure Hotel for breakfast. The Sebel being Christmas Day were not open for breakfast.
Following breakfast we headed for Mt Eden to allow the group to get photography on Auckland. It hadn’t been on their tour agenda so that was the start of us running in catch up mode all day.
Off we head after the photographs for the Karangahake Gorge near Waihi for a walk on one of the gold mining tracks. But first we tried to find a café on route for a coffee stop but being Christmas Day we needed end up settling for McCafe at MacDonalds in Paeroa. All normal cafes remaining closed.
At Karanghake first issue became a very crowded carpark including cars in the tour bus parks. So I told the group to go ahead and I would catch up, maybe. A confrontation but patience remained as I confronted those in the bus stop and basically told them shift or I will double park right alongside and there the bus shall remain until I return. It seemed to work, they moved.
Now in theory all 11 of the group were ahead of me. First I caught 2 and 1 being elderly I suggested a partial walk on level ground which they appreciated. I caught 1 of the Swiss couples up and the 3 of us stayed within proximity of each other for the walk. Low and behold we reached the bus first. Still not sure how we got in front of the others but over an hour later they turned up. We were already behind schedule and that added to it.
A phone call to Rainbows End who advised being Christmas Day were shutting at 5pm. We were booked to arrive 3pm. We agreed on 4pm and finally arrived 4.20pm. The bus does not seem to keep up with times on the GPS. Obviously designed for cars.
Rainbows End were very cooperative and a lovely Chinese guide that works there took us on a guided tour of the nocturnal Kiwi House plus their breeding centre. The latter even for me was fascinating.
Quickly back to the bus and off to check into the Novatel. 15 minutes to find the rooms, do whatever they required and back to the bus. We had an appointment for Christmas Dinner.
Te Puia at the southern end of Rotorua was our venue for Christmas Dinner. A traditional Maori hangi feast but first a Maori concert. The evening went well and seemed to be enjoyed by all the group.
Tomorrow they get the morning off and don’t need join me in the bus to midday.
Certainly a different sort of Christmas Day for me but very enjoyable. A little hard work. Not good being in catch up mode all day but it is typical of a first day with a new group. I will get them better organised, well maybe