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Sydney, Hunter Valley, Auckland, Coromandel Peninsula, Tauranga, Rotorua, Napier, Hastings, Wellington

On Saturday 28 October 2006 we left Birmingham International Airport for Auckland, stopping off for 7 days in Australia. We stayed with Alice and Pete in Sydney, meeting young Stanley and baby Lola for the first time. During the week we spent three days in the Hunter Valley, to sample the wines and see the kangaroos once again.

Heavy rain in the last days in Australia followed us to New Zealand, where a hurricane hit Auckland the day after we arrived, the aftermath of which stayed with for most of the next fortnight. Wet and windy would be an understatement of the weather throughout, the notable exception being the the two blue sky days we spent in Napier and Hastings.

In Lower Hutt we met my cousin Andrew and Peggy and in Tauranga we met my cousin David and Margaret, re-acquainting ourselves with the descendants of my great, great aunt Mary Ann Gwilliam nee Attwood of Cradley and her niece Matilda of Caerleon, Monmouth who left England more than 120 years ago to start a new life.

The Overlander train journey from Wellington back to Auckland was a washout, the promised views of snow-capped volcanoes and sub-tropical jungle lay hidden behind heavy rain for all 12 hours of the trip.

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