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February 2007

Annie West
14th February, 2007

Iíd like to tell you just a little about Auckland, New Zealand, a fabulous city and one I hadnít visited until this month. My husband took me there for a late (12 months late) anniversary present just a couple of weeks ago. Heíd planned to surprise me with the trip last year, when we celebrated a significant anniversary, but the arrangements fell through when not one but both teenage children contracted chickenpox. So when he turned to me at Christmas and asked if Iíd like to make the trip this year, we surreptitiously checked the children for spots and quickly booked the holiday. The trip doubled as an early Valentineís Day treat too, since the teens stayed at home with relatives.

It was a short vacation, and one that couldnít possibly to justice to the city. We didnít always have brilliant sunny weather, as you can see from the photo of Rangitoto Island, our trip started out grey. But that didnít matter, and the weather improved too. Speaking of Rangitoto Ė how would you like to have a volcano in the middle of your harbour? Just a few kilometres from the city centre. Actually Auckland is surrounded by volcanoes, but I was assured they were all safe, which was good since we climbed up one.

Auckland is a city surrounded by sea. I live on the coast so I thought Iíd be prepared for the ĎCity of Sailsí as itís called. But around each corner there seems to be more water. And sprinkled over that are so many islands that a tourist couldnít hope to see them all. If you like sailing, relaxing, walking through seaside towns, eating, drinking fine New Zealand wine or enjoy water sports of any sort, Auckland is a place you canít afford to miss. Oh, and did I mention book shops? Walking through the picturesque harbourside suburb of Devonport after one of the best breakfasts Iíve ever had, we found far too many bookshops considering we had to face the airline weight restriction on baggage only a few days later.

We loved the views, the open water and the friendly people we met everywhere. One of our favourite days was catching the ferry out to Waiheke Island then walking, swimming and exploring. We lunched at a vineyard restaurant with tremendous views back across the water to Auckland city. It felt good to just sit back in our seats, enjoy the great food, wonderful atmosphere and of course, the company. Perfect relaxation.

We hired a car too and drove through the rugged rainforest hills to the west coast to see some of the black sand beaches that are popular with surfers. Next time we visit (yes, we will go again), Iíd love to take longer and drive north to the fabulous Bay of Islands Iíve heard so much about. And also catch up with more romance writers. I think New Zealand must have one of the largest number of writers per head of population! On this trip I managed only a quick visit with Tessa Radley, a new writer for Silhouette Desire. Tessa is one of the 8 other authors Iíve joined with to offer a special Valentineís Day book giveaway.

I hope you get a chance to experience Auckland too one day. And of course, from there you can explore the rest of what has to be one of the most scenic countries in the world!


The Marcelli Princess

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