Auckland, NZ – Thursday, Feb 13th, 2014

I take a trip today with Aotea Roadies called Southern Secrets.  I was the only person on the tour and hung out with Zana, one of the owners of the company.  As with previous tours, I’m picked up in a mini bus and transfer to the floor then to the seat.  We start the tour at the Auckland Botanic Gardens.  A very nice gardens with some hills that I need help on.  We see about 30% of the gardens and there are few areas we don’t because the hills are fairly steep.  We spend about an hour and half in the gardens then have a nice break with coffee and a snack in the gardens.

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With me being the only person on the tour, I decide to sit in the front seat to make it easier for us to talk.  I have her pull up close to the curb to make it easier to transfer gaining a little height.  Our next stop is Hunua Falls.  There a flat path paved about half way then tight packed gravel to the falls.  This waterfall is nowhere close to anything I saw in Milford Sound but still nice.  There is a very steep ramp up to the bridge that crosses to the other side to get a different view of the the falls.  I need help up the ramp and after crossing the bridge need help up the step to go down the dirt/gravel pathway.  Most of the pathway I was able to wheel myself and only needed help up two hills.  There are other pathways that I was not able to do because they are not accessible.  I needed help back down the step and was able to go down the ramp by myself.  The park does have an accessible bathroom.


We stop off at John Hill Estate for a wine tasting and lunch.  Her husband Brian skips out on work and joins us for lunch.  John Hill Estate is a very young vineyard only being open 10 years. The wine presenter is Desiree.  She does a great job and knows Zana and Brian from Happy Hour at the vineyard.  Brian and I taste 6 wines with us both agreeing the Merlot was the best.  Lunch was a lamb burger with a glass of Merlot for only $20.  Another wine tasting at Villa Maria Estate is next.  Again we taste 6 wines with Brian and I once again agree the Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot is the best.  A bottle of this costs $68 NZ dollars.  On the way back to Auckland we stop by Cronwall Park over looking the city.  We pick up a backpacker they are having stay at their house then we head to The North Wharf for a few drinks before I get dropped off at City Lodge.  I get laundry done and get ready to leave Auckland and head back to Australia.

Aotea Roadies is a very good tour operator with two great owners.  My time spent with them was very enjoyable and something I will remember.  It was very laid back and they will modify the trip based on what you prefer to do.  It was like hanging out with my friends for the day.

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