It had to come sooner or later - a Shopping Trip!
But we made it as painless as possible, popping down to the posh end of Auckland for a productive couple of hours before adjourning back to the wilds of the countryside.
Our first port of call was Arataki Visitor Centre, on the Scenic Drive near Nikau Lodge. It was full of (interesting) facts about the local bush (forest), bird life, history, etc. Being up at 300m it had good views as well, and we enjoyed these as we chomped through our final batch of blue cheese, pate and tomatoes on the tasty, thickly sliced malted bread that we have become accustomed to here.
On to Piha, where the famous black sand beach reminded us that we are in a volcanic region.
The sand was very soft, so we sank in over an inch with every step as we progressed along the beach as close as possible to the incoming tide with competing currents. The sun emerged strongly as we left the beach by some caves where it became impassable due to a rocky headland, up which a rocky path led us to the airy summit.
This held fine views back to Piha Beach and on to another beautiful and secluded beach, White's Beach. Time precluded a descent 'for experienced trampers only' to that beach.
So our final stroll of the trip was through a delightful palm forest, along White's Track, with Tui singing (and showing themselves) and cicatas chirping loudly in the bright sunshine.
It was good to rejoin the beach, firmer now the tide was receding, below Lion Rock, a 100 metre high 'island' that used to be climbable but is no longer so, due to unstable rocks.
A short drive then returned us to the now familiar palms (Nikau, of course) of Nikau Lodge.
Swimming for those who chose to, more Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, a fine BBQ with Barbara, Jim, Andre and Alesha, then a drive around Auckland to view its sights - mainly nautical - at night. The waterfront has benefited greatly in recent years as a result of hosting the Americas Cup yachting race, and is really smart.
We had hoped to pack our bags today, but hey...