Subject: Re: Auckland
Hi John,

We visited the north Island of New Zealand in 1999 specifically to see the Ellerslie Flower Show and tour the gardens of New Zealand. We spent three weeks traveling around the island including New Plymouth area, Palmerston North, Napier, Coromondel, Pahia/KeriKeri area. It was a great trip. We spent probably about 5 days in Auckland split in two segments. There is a lot to do in Auckland if you want to slow down and see it especially at that time of the year. Usually people want to see as much as they can so they only spend a bit in Auckland. It was our second trip and we love it.

I have a different area to recommend. We stayed in the Ponsonby area and I highly recommend it. I feel it has more charm than the Parnell area. I love the architecture of the area and the area does also have a feel of a neighborhood. It also feels pretty young. We stayed at the Ponsonby B& B ( The owners are wonderful. Sally helped us with a lot of advice on gardens to visit. The cost is probably much higher than City Garden unfortunately. Ponsonby is also on the cirle bus route. We used it to get downtown and to Parnell from Ponsonby.

The Ellerslie Flower Show is not bad but it is not Chelsea. We are big gardeners and have been to Chelsea twice so we were somewhat disappointed. What I did really enjoy and highly recommend is the Trinity Garden Festival. It happens on weekend before Ellerslie. It doesn't happen every year but I see it is happening this year Nov 21- 22 and 24th. We did the country day which was the last day. It was outstanding. Lots of gorgeous houses and gardens. It gave us a whole new view of Auckland. If it works into your time frame, I can give you more information on Trinity.

We haven't been to any of the islands in the gulf. They are always something we look at but never make it. We wanted to go treking on We wanted to do some wine tasting but didn't make it. Several of the large producers are in the Auckland area including Waiheke Island. They make great red wines in the region. There are a lot of good web sites to help you plan a day trip wine tasting or organized trips.

As far as day trips and driving times. Coromondel peninsula is easy to get to but very slow driving once on the peninsula. Very narrow roads and other than the road around, the roads crossing the peninsula are dirt one lane drives. I drive logging roads here in WA and found them a bit hair-raising. We stayed three nights at Mercury Bay. Thames is a nice town and might make a good day trip if you really need to get out of town. There is also botanical gardens in Hamilton for a day trip.

Obviously, I can go on and on. I have my journal so if you have any questions, please ask. You've been a big help on my planning for Chile so I'd love to share my knowledge back.

- marta Washington State USA