Day 10: Tauranga – Auckland, Showers, 22ºC max, 14ºC min.
Today was the day we said farewell to JMIDM in Tauranga, leaving them behind to head to Auckland before them, as they would be spending half a day more in Tauranga before meeting us and Shen for dinner in Auckland tonight.
We went up to their suite to bid farewell in the morning. Daniella was still lazing in bed, while we were there. That was J polishing up the last drop of milk they had left for us before we headed off for the day.
We drove approximately 67 km for about 1 hr to Hobbiton in Matamata.
There, the iSite is in the form of a Shire (house in which hobbits stay in)!
Complete with thatched roof, the information centre is not only the departure point for the Hobbiton Movie Set Tours, it also sells a variety of Hobbit-themed merchandise.
Before we left Matamata, we took a few more pictures with the Hobbit-themed den, then we drove 160 km towards Auckland.
About 2 hrs later, we reached the Grand Harbour Chinese Restaurant in Viaduct Harbour, Auckland, NZ. We thoroughly enjoyed the ala carte buffet lunch there. Had so much food that we had to take away some leftovers for late afternoon snack.
A former commercial harbour on the Auckland waterfront, the Viaduct Harbour is now a development of mostly upscale apartments, office space and restaurants.
The harbour enjoys considerable popularity with locals and foreign visitors since it acted as a centre of activity of the America’s Cup hosted by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, who was also the winner that year, in 2000.
We played peekaboo with Little E…
and took time to sit on the benches along the harbour, taking in the breeze that ever so gently caressed our skin… till it was time for us to send Dad and Mum to Josh’s home near Browns Bay.
It was a 30 min drive from the Viaduct Harbour to reach Josh’s home. We helped Mum and Dad unloaded their luggage, and kissed them goodbye till we meet again at night for our last reunion dinner in NZ.
Then we drove back towards Auckland City and checked ourselves in at Sky City Hotel.
We rested in the hotel room for a while, before we set off again to walk the main streets of Auckland City, looking for souvenirs to bring home for our friends and family. While we shopped, JMIDM has made their way from Tauranga to Auckland, to meet Dad and Mum in Josh’s home. They went to the Viaduct Harbour too before meeting us and Shen for dinner in town.
Shen had came to meet us at the hotel lobby where he and J both enjoyed their pre-dinner booze. Then Shen drove us to meet JMIDM and Dad and Mum at the restaurant where we would be having dinner.
Shen decided that dinner should be at Monsoon Poon, which serves a variety of colourful and lip-smacking South-East Asian cuisine that comprises famous favourites from Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, South China, Philippines and Indonesia.
Because we were such a huge group (7 adults + 4 children), and waiting time for a booth seat in the restaurant was about 1 hr, we were offered adjoining tables at the bar instead. Turned out we had an awesome time in the restaurant and the food that were dished up were all so tasty!
Though we had such an incredible time during dinner, feeling was bittersweet because we all knew it was our last reunion dinner in NZ, before we split up to return to our own lives back in the countries we reside. We would be back in Singapore, JMIDM in London, Dad and Mum in Penang, and Shen would remain in Auckland.
Reluctant to bid farewell, we decided to go for ice-cream at Mövenpick of Switzerland in Mission Bay. A 15 min drive from Monsoon Poon, we reached the crowded parlour, ate our ice-cream off the waffle cones like little children, chatted like there was no tomorrow, and simply enjoyed the last of today as a great family altogether.
Words can’t describe how much I cherish the precious moments we got to spend as one big family throughout these 10 days of escapade that made up such an amazing road trip. We flew from Auckland down south to Dunedin, then drove all the way up back to Auckland, traversing Cook Strait that separates the 2 islands of New Zealand via the InterIslander. That was a feat! An adventure filled with moments to be treasured for a lifetime, to say the least.
I will never forget the time spent with JMIDM who are always so lovely, gentle, and patient; Dad and Mum who are the most wonderful parents in the world, full of love, grace and patience in great measures; and Shen who is such a promising and charming young man.
Till we meet again in London next October! Can’t wait!!!
The LORD’s lovingkindness indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness. Blessed be the LORD, our God. Thy name be praised, glorified, and exalted forever, and ever. Amen!