Retreat in NZ

A Pleasant Retreat In New Zealand

This is my second trip to NZ this year. This time I was in NZ from 12th to 26th Oct as a retreat with my wife Lucy and my daughter Mei. We went tramping in Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown. We stayed ten days in Queenstown where, besides tramping and driving to visit Arrow Town, Te Anau and Milford Sound, I spent some times unwinding and practiced the art of doing nothing slowly!


A Pleasant Retreat In Picturesque New Zealand

(12th to 26th Oct 2010)

A.  Introduction

This is our second trip to NZ this year. The first was in April when Lucy and I went there to finalize the purchase of a serviced apartment in Auckland (Chifley Suites) and to look for one in Queenstown. The trip was successful and we managed to purchase one in Queenstown (Aurum Apartment). The two apartments we bought would allow us to occupy for a limited periods annually – one week in Chifley and one month in Aurum.


This trip to NZ is a retreat for me – a recreation and escapade which I like to do off and on to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, my normal routines and to do things I like to do that give me pleasure. For our daughter, Mei, this is her maiden trip to NZ.

My previous sojourns in NZ were but flying visits to some places in the North and South Islands. This time we spent some time tramping in parks and hills in Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown.

We arrived in Auckland on 11th Oct and spent two nights in our apartment in Chifley Suites. On 13th Oct we left Auckland for Wellington by train (Overlander) and stayed two nights there. Lucy and I flew to Queenstown on 15th Oct while Mei went to Christchurch by ferry and train and on 20th Oct took a bus from there to Queenstown.

B.  In Auckland - 11th to 12th & 24th to 25th Oct

We took a walk to the Auckland Domain from Albert Street, where our apartment is located, in the afternoon of 12th Oct.

Auckland Domain is Auckland’s oldest park located in the central suburb of Grafton. Covering an area of about 75 hectares and developed around the cone of an extinct volcano, it is one of the largest in the city. The walking paths in the Park wind through green clearings edged by century-old trees.


Auckland War Memorial Museum at the Domain highest point


Century-old trees lining along the paths of Auckland Domain

Mt Eden

On 25th Oct. we took a taxi to One Tree Hill and on the way we stopped at Mt Eden. Mt Eden is a cinder cone situated 5km south of the city centre. The mountain is the highest point in Auckland. At the summit, one can enjoy the spectacular views of the City.



Panoramic view of the City from top of Mt Eden

One Tree Hill

One Tree Hill Domain and the neighbouring Cornwall Park together form the largest area of parkland in Auckland.


On the summit there is a grave of Sir John Campbell, the founder of Auckland, surmounted by an obelisk.


When Auckland was founded as a colonial town, a tree stood near the summit which gave the name its English name. The tree was cut down by a white settler in 1852. John Campbell repeatedly tried to grow native trees on the summit but only two pines survived. One of the trees was felled in1994 in another attack. The remaining tree was damaged after successive attacks by Maori protesters and was eventually felled for safety reason in 2001. From then on a new nickname “N(one) Tree Hill” soon became popular

From the summit of the One Tree Hill one can enjoy the spectacular views of the whole Auckland city.


The whole parkland is grazed by sheep and cattle. As one walks around the huge and peaceful parks, one can enjoy the beautiful open pastures interspersed with trees of many kinds. Besides exploring the extensive walkways, one can also relax with friends at picnic and barbecue areas.

C.  Auckland to Wellington by Train aboard the Overlander – 13th Oct

Overlander is the train that plies to and fro between Auckland and Wellington. The trip takes nearly 12 hours, starting from Auckland at 7.30am and arriving Wellington at about 7.00pm. This main trunk line between the two cities and through the interior of North Island was in operation ages ago. There are two other trunk lines in South Island – Tranzcoastal and TanzAlpine. The former plies to and fro between Picton and Christchurch while the latter between Christchurch and Greymouth acrossing the South Island in the west.

The train has only five carriages; a baggage carriage with a viewing platform followed by two passenger carriages, a buffet carriage and an observation carriage with a lounge set at the rear. The lounge set is surrounded by large panoramic glass windows giving sweeping views of the magnificent North Island. The observation carriage is normally reserved for passengers who travel the whole length of the journey between the two cities.

The main trunk main is about 680km long and crosses over 350 bridges and travels through 14 tunnels.

We boarded the Overlander at the railway station in Auckland. Punctually at 7.30am, it headed south through lush farmland, green mountains and quant country towns and villages. It made a number of stops at Pakekohe, Huntly, Hamilton, Otorohanga and Taumarunui. From Taumarunui it started climbing steep hillsides with an average gradient of about 1 : 50 and traversed a climb of over 600m in about 50km. And after another 15km it went over the impressive feat of engineering and that is the famous Raurimu Spiral before we arrived at the National Park, a World Heritage site. It was then about noon and time for a leisurely lunch at the Station Café. After about a 30-minute break, we continued our journey. Down from the plateau, the scenery became leafy and green. After crossing the Rangitikei River we soon arrived at Wellington at about 7.00pm.

It was an enjoyable kiwi rail experience through the North Island’s unique geographical regions with their diverse scenic landscapes.










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