To Auckland 18:11:12
Before we set off, we passed our surplus food on to the neighbours, who said they'd use what they could, and pass the rest on to friends. They found it amusing that we weren't keen on the heat. They lived in Darwin! We set off for Cairns, and arrived early at the airport to return the hire car. Then coffee, check in and herded into the plane. We got to our row to discover someone sitting in my seat. Their mistake, luckily. Two on one seat would have felt even more of a squash than it really was.
The Kiwi safety pep talk on screen was delivered in Tolkien characters spoof style. Raised a grin, anyway. The main problem was that the plane was packed. Getting to the toilet was like playing the game where you shuffle plastic pieces around inside a square case, and end up with something that makes sense.
Passport check, baggage reclaim and customs went smoothly, and best of all, Harry's friend, Jenny, was there waiting for us. It felt like coming home but 12 000 miles away! But what a home - set in 11acres, and with a magnificent view.
A good meal, a late night, an excellent bed for a good night's sleep, and up in the morning in time for breakfast and a trip on the local ferry - this time in the guise of a water taxi - to the isolated homes on Kawau Island, before we landed at the Mansion House for a couple of hours walking through the trees along tracks to the old Coppermine. Jenny was tempted by the beautiful clear water - until she took her coat off and noticed the temperature. We took the Redwood Track to return to the boat landing. It proved to be slightly longer than expected, though we made an unexpected detour, only to find that the fence blocking the way was there for a purpose. So briskly uphill and down brought us back to the Mansion before the boat arrived, and we had time to have a rapid look at the house. Lovely kauri wood paneling gave it a warmth and comfort that you wouldn't find in places like Chatsworth. To be fair, this place was much smaller too. I was particularly charmed by the children's rooms, small and practical.
Plans to share a pizza for lunch were scuppered by Monday closing, so we called in at James and Morris's Pottery for coffee and fruit cake. Tempting though their pots were, air travel doesn't lend itself to lugging large garden urns, alas.
Back to Jenny's for a sandwich and a chill out afternoon, looking at her studio in the garage, sending a couple of emails, introducing Jenny to the general concept of haiku.
She wouldn't let us help her cook, and fed us a delicious veggie frittata with red cabbage and apple. An early night followed so that we could visit her local national park before heading off to Auckland to collect the hire car.