Auckland Branch

Upcoming Trips

Hobsonville Point Farmers Market - Saturday 28 June

The Auckland Branch YHA NZ will be running a trip to Hobsonville Point Farmers Market on Saturday 28 June.

We will go to the market which is beside the Hobsonville ferry wharf, then the rest of the day is yours to do what you want - maybe do a walk, have a coffee, drive home a different way, go to a movie, etc.

The Hobsonville Point Farmers Market is a real ‘foodies’ market, selling fresh local farm produce, breads, meat, fish, cheese, eggs, organics, coffee, honey, and flowers, to name just a few! Live music adds to the vibrant atmosphere, and there are lots of opportunities to taste fresh produce and be inspired by cooking demonstrations using food from the market. It is the place to get your whole week's supply of fresh produce in a relaxed and vibrant environment. You can stay on for a coffee and pastry, listen to live music, take a walk or ride along the coastal walkway through Hobsonville Point Park and stop off at the playground.

The market is held on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 9am to 1pm. We have plenty of parking, and we are dog friendly!  Visiting the market is a perfect morning out for the whole family!!

Please bring: some money to spend at the market, and bags for your shopping.

Meet at Britomart (pickup area behind the old CPO) at 9:30am for carpooling.  Petrol costs to be paid to driver at the end of the trip, allow $5 for return trip to Hobsonville Market.

Getting there - via Harbour Bridge, Northern Motorway and Upper Harbour Drive, 24km (shortest route), or via Northwestern Motorway 27km (only 3km longer)

Bookings please to myself phone 630 4073 or by Thursday 26 June. Please let me know whether you have a car with/without spare seats or need a ride.

Saturday 12 July - Branch AGM

The Auckland Branch YHA NZ will be holding its AGM on Saturday 12 July 2014 at St David's Presbyterian Church, Khyber Pass Rd, Grafton, starting at 1:30pm. Doors will open at 1pm, giving up to half an hour to mix 'n' mingle before the meeting starts.  Afternoon tea will follow.

We would like to see as many members as possible - this is always a well attended event, a great time to catch up with one another, meet new people, maybe make a new friend or two?

Nominations are now being taken for the committee for 2014/15. If you would like to get involved with your Branch by serving on the committee, please let me know before Saturday 21 June. The committee meets on the first Wednesday evening each month (except Jan) at St David's Church.

Please ensure you bring you YHA membership card with yo so you can vote during the AGM.


COMING UP - Please diary, details will be sent closer to the time:

Sunday 17 August - Helensville to include the Kaukapakapa market, River Valley Country Music Club concert and Parakai hot pools

Sunday 14 September - an easy afternoon walk around the new Orakei Basin walkway

Labour weekend 25-27 October - Kawhia staying at the Campground Holiday Park

Saturday 22 November - Orewa Estuary walkway


We are always looking for new suggestions for Branch activities

If you have any particular trip or activity you would like to do with this YOUR branch, please let me know. Perhaps you have a place you would like to see, or a fun activity you would like us to do, or you may even come up with a novel idea for something. Please contact the Branch Secretary.

New committee members always welcome 

If you would like to be involved in the running of this YOUR branch as a committee member, we will be glad to have you aboard! The committee meets the first Wednesday evening each month (except January) at St David's Presbyterian Church, Khyber Pass, Grafton, Auckland. Please contact the Branch Secretary for more information. 


Branch trip reports and photos

Helensville - Sunday 19 August

Eight of us had a lovely afternoon of country music and a soak in the hot pools at Helensville. Maggie’s car load came early to visit the local markets, and met up with the rest of us at the Helensville War Memorial Hall in time for the country music to begin at 1pm.

The River Valley Country Music Club has their club afternoons on the third Sunday of each month, and these are open for anybody to come along. A group of musicians, including three guitar players and a drummer, were playing on an informal “stage” along the east side of the hall. They were joined by different club members taking their turn to sing one song each - in all there were almost 40 songs altogether, including favourites such as It’s Now Or Never, How Great Thou Art, It Had To Be You and Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain. We had an afternoon tea break halfway through the three-hour programme. For the last item, Folsom Prison Blues, three people blowing train whistles joined in.

Afterwards we went to Parakai Springs (Aquatic Park) to relax in the indoor thermal pool and have fish and chips or burgers before leaving for home shortly after 6:30pm.


Eight Branch members went together as a group to the Member Weekend at Rotorua. We travelled there during the day, one car leaving in the morning and the other one after lunch. On arrival we checked into the Treks YHA and settled in. There were at least four other Branch members who had travelled and booked independently.

We enjoyed a yummy continental breakfast served by Rotorua Branch. Some of us watched part of the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London in the TV room. We all met in the lounge to be briefed on the day’s activities at 9am.

Michael, Barbara, Oscar, Hunter, Madge, Sid and Jane joined others to go on RailCruisers, a new attraction being the first of its kind in the world. They rode in three purpose-built 4-seater cars along a 9.5km section of the old Rotorua branch railway from Mamaku to Tarukenga, travelling at speeds up to almost 25km/h. These driverless cars were remote controlled; it was great just to relax, enjoy the scenery and take photos. The cars ran on batteries, assisted by petrol for the uphill journey back to Mamaku. The Rotorua Branch was able to get a special discount.

John, having recently been on the RailCruisers, decided to go to Whakarewarewa, taking advantage of a Maori Language Week special $15 for tour, walks, village and lunch (normally $30 without lunch). He had a look the Maori village and did the various walks in the thermal reserve. There was a lookout where one could watch the Pohutu Geyser in full action from a distance; unfortunately to get closer to the geyser, one would have to pay extra to go in via Te Puia, as the original Whakarewarewa thermal reserve has been subdivided into two separate tourist properties. There was also the area where the village residents swam, bathed, grew their vegies and cooked their meals in the boiling springs.

After lunch we went to Waiotapu and had a good look at a pond with boiling mud before carrying on 15 minutes later to the Waikite Hot Springs. We soaked in one pool at the bottom of the complex, and later did the 5 minute eco walk to where hot water was vigorously bubbling out of the silica-lined stream. 

Then it was back to the hostel for the Board Forum, Coral Laughton (Chair of the National Board) introduced Mark Wells (Chief Executive) who spoke on the state of the YHA with Christchurch’s devastating earthquakes and the global economic situation making for difficult times for the organisation.

Afterwards we enjoyed a yummy BBQ dinner and a time to socialise and meet one another. Later in the evening some of us watched rowing, breaststroke and freestyle swimming events of the Olympic Games.

Once more the Rotorua Branch provided us with breakfast, then we packed up and were out of the hostel before 10am. We had a look at the Rotorua Museum, housed in the distinctive Tudor-style Bath House building in the Government Gardens. There was so much to see that we did not have enough time to see everything. A 20-minute movie showed various stories of Rotorua including the devastating Mt Tarawera eruption of 1886 complete with earthquake effects under our seats. Some of the baths and treatment rooms of the original bath house were on display, and we could also walk an underground passage showing the pipes that had delivered the thermal waters. A viewing platform on the roof gave panoramic views of the Government Gardens and surrounding area. The Nga Pumanawa O Te Arawa exhibition about the journey of Te Arawa from Hawaiki to life today in Aotearoa was impressive.

After an enjoyable hour and half spent looking around, we set out for home, the weather having turned to showers. We had our lunch stop at Ronnies in Matamata before continuing along SH27 and having another break at the icecream shops in Pokeno. We were home by about 4pm.



Five members had a relaxing time at Whitianga. The weather was lovely for the whole time as we visited places such as Hot Water Beach, Hahei and Whangapoua.

We left Auckland, and called in to Jean’s home in Papakura where she put on a morning tea for Oscar’s birthday. It was nice for Maggie, who didn’t come on this trip, to be there was well. Afterwards we carried on to Thames, arriving shortly after 1pm. Unfortunately the Saturday morning market had finished, so we went into a tearooms for lunch before buying our groceries. We arrived at Whitianga at 3:45pm and checked into the On the Beach YHA where we had two ground floor apartments, each containing a lounge, kitchenette, bathroom, a twin room and a double room. The three menfolk had one, while the two ladies had the other one. That evening we went into the shopping centre of Whitianga where we dined out at bar or had takeaways.

We left the YHA for a drive around the area. Our first port of call was Hot Water Beach where we went out to some hot springs in the sand. The place was crowded with people taking advantage of the low tide, using their own or hired spades to make little hot pools to soak in.

Then it was off to Hahei, after finding no free car parks at the Cathedral Cove track, we went down to the beach for a walk along the sand to the northern end. We had our lunch at a picnic table near the car park.

We left Hahei at 1:30pm to go through to Cooks Beach. After a quick stop at the beach we went to the ferry landing across the river from Whitianga. We went down to the wharf, then up into the nearby cemetery where we found the newly-laid grave of Alison Harsant, next to those of her parents. Alison, from Thames, had been on at least three Branch trips about 2004-05, and sadly had just lost a battle with cancer. We paused briefly to remember her.

From there we travelled back to Waitangi, and had a yummy BBQ dinner on a picnic table outside our hostel rooms as the sun set and day began to turn into night.

We packed up, and were away by 10am. On our way to Coromandel we went through Kuaotunu and had a stop at Whangapoua. We enjoyed a picnic lunch at Coromandel before driving the picturesque coast road to Thames. After a break there we headed homewards on State Highway 2. Between the start of SH27 and Pokeno the road was so crowded our travel was reduced to a crawl all the way. We were able to reach Pokeno well before the icecream shops closed for the day, and were back in Auckland about 5:30pm just as day was turning into night.




Six members came along to the Bay of Islands Country Rock Festival that is held each year at Pahia. Four travelled there in the afternoon in Michael’s car, the other two came independently. We stayed at YHA Paihia, most of us sharing the 6-bed chalet at the end of the hostel, the same room we had for the Jazz and Blues Festival a couple of years ago.

That evening we went across to the Paihia Pacific Resort hotel to buy our festival badges which gave access to country performers at six venues in Paihia, Haruru Falls and Russell for the whole weekend, plus a free bus shuttle and discounted ferries between them. We then began to enjoy some of the live music, including Reg McTaggart at that hotel and Joy Adams at Haruru Falls.


Each one of us was able to do their own thing over the weekend. Most of us walked into town in the morning to see the music in the street - there was Graeme McCardle, Reg McTaggart, Stephen Cheney, Dennis Marsh and Joy Adams, with many people line dancing to them. In addition, there was a craft market next to the fire station, and a garage sale of old books put on by Williams Library.

In the afternoon music was playing at the venues. Some of us went to the two venues at Haruru Falls to hear Blue Highway, Aaron Jury and the very popular fiddler Marian Burns. During a couple of her items, Marian went right down to the back of the audience with her violin.

The music carried on up to past midnight at the various venues, including Lynda Innes, Maria’s Hot Property, Kevin Greaves and Eddie Low.


Again we enjoyed the music in the streets in the morning. Unfortunately there was no special country-music church service this time.

Some of us went over to Russell in the afternoon to see such performers as 3SUM, Pirongia Mountain Men and Jan and the Hantler Family.

Later in the day Dennis Marsh gave an entertaining show at Paihia Pacific Resort. He pranced around with a cordless microphone going out into the overflow foyer, and then yanked an elderly lady onto the stage to sing, earning her a free CD. He went on with his gig, climaxing with How Great Thou Art. This was followed by Tami Neilson and Paul Trenwith with a couple of items featuring Marian Burns, and other groups playing well into the night.


Down came the rain after a sunny weekend, something unusual for the homecoming day of a weekend away.
We left the hostel after saying goodbye to manager Rangi, and after morning tea at Kawakawa and lunch at Waipu, we were back in Auckland by late afternoon, bringing to a finish a lovely weekend away with lots of nice music to enjoy.




A total of 13 people from the Auckland Branch went to the Member Weekend at the Whangarei YHA.


At 7:30pm Herman of Whangarei branch led us on a walk to see some glow worms. We dropped down a pathway to Dundas Rd before following it up to the end and into the start of the bush track leading up to Parahaki summit. Here we began to see a spectacular display of glow worms in the right-hand bank of the track. Herman took us to an old mine tunnel where we saw some cave wetas as well as more of the worms. He said that summer was the best time to come and see the glow worms as there would be far more of the creatures to see.

Later that evening one of us, whose YHA membership was due for renewal, got on the internet to do this - I wonder how many people have paid their subs online from a YHA hostel common room?


Breakfast was provided courtesy of the Whangarei Branch. At 9:30am we gathered in the hostel lounge to hear CEO Mark Wells tell us about the financial future of the YHA New Zealand.

Members had the choice of a boat trip to Limestone Island and a van trip of the local area afterwards. Six of us did the van trip led by Herman. We left the hostel at 11:30am going first of all to the Whangarei Heads, with a leg-stretch and comfort stop at Urquharts Bay on the way. From there we went on to the Ocean Beach where we had a look around.

We got back into the van at 12:45pm and went to Reotahi Bay directly across from Marsden Point to view the oil refinery without getting out of the vehicle. After lunch at the Parua Bay shops we also had a view-from-the-van of McGregors Bay on the Pataua road before going via Ohiwa Rd to the AH Reed Memorial Kauri Park.

The Canopy Walk made for a pleasant half hour bush walk at 2:30pm. We walked through native forest including giant kauri trees. The highlight of the walk was an elevated boardwalk where we could closely view the upper parts of the trees as well as look down on ponga ferns and other undergrowth.

We went on to the new Quarry Gardens at the foot of Whangarei’s Western Hills. This was an old quarry that, like many other quarries throughout NZ, has been transformed into a botanical garden. There were plenty of different types of plants and flowers to be seen as we walked up to a waterfall cascading into a lake. A side track led up to the arid garden displaying cacti and other succulents, as well as giving a lookout over the lake.

As we returned to the carpark we could hear music coming from the direction of some concrete tunnels. We thought there was someone performing, but the music turned out to be a small group of young people from a local church with a guitar trying out the acoustics of the tunnel.
The Whangarei Branch put on a yummy dinner that evening with Michael helping with the BBQ.


Breakfast was served at 8:30am, then we packed up and were away from the hostel soon after 10am for the homeward journey.

We stopped at the Whangarei Town Basin to browse the shops, galleries and cafes. There was a special exhibition of classic cars, including Packard cars that the Craw family had collected. This included the blue Land-Rover that Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were paraded in during their royal visit in 1953-54. As well as the cars, there were other items including old telephones, a wind-up gramophone, and a hand-powered vacuum cleaner.

Our lunch stop was at Wellsford, and we were back in Auckland by 2:30pm, bringing to a finish a lovely weekend of relaxing, sightseeing, meeting up with other YHA members, and being updated on the running of the YHA NZ.

Napier Trip - Easter 2012

Because Napier was a six hour drive from Auckland we decided to observe the traditional schools’ Easter holiday from the days of the three-term year, coming home on the Tuesday instead of the usual Monday. This would give more time to explore the attractions of Napier. Eleven people came along, travelling in three cars.


Two carloads left Jean’s in Papakura about 9am on a glorious day out of the box, and travelled via State Highway 27, stopping at Ronnie’s in Matamata for our morning tea break. Our next stop was at a driver reviver just past Putaruru where we enjoyed free sausages, coffee, water and apples courtesy State Insurance - they organise these driver reviver stops at various parts on the country to encourage motorists to take a break and reduce the risk of accidents. Here we met up with Hunter and Madge‘s carload, who had travelled separately from Auckland.

The new bypass between Wairakei and State Highway 5, missing out Taupo, made for a quicker journey. The fine weather gave way to cloudy conditions with occasional showers as we continued along the Taupo-Napier highway. At Tarawera we stopped at a café for a break about 2:45pm. We had a look at a display about the history of the highway, from the days when it was considered as one of the country’s worst roads before it was sealed in the early 1970s.

We arrived at the Napier YHA about 4:15pm, and checked and settled in. About an hour later we went to a takeaway place near the port of Napier for our dinner.


Some of us went shopping in the morning, as rain had set in. After lunch at the hostel we went to the New Zealand National Aquarium, a short walk down Marine Parade from the hostel. We went up a flight of stairs to view all sorts of animals on display - fish, turtles, lizards including the tuatara, alligators, water dragons and corals. From there we went downstairs to a display of an old bush hut before going through the kiwi enclosure.  Flash photos were not allowed so we were able to clearly see our native birds in their darkened environment. We went past tanks containing geckos, eels, catfish and seahorses before riding a travelator through the oceanarium. Fish of all sorts including sharks and stingrays swam around and above us as we glided through the glass tunnel.


Some of us went to an Easter Sunday church service at the Waiapu Cathedral ten minutes’ walk from the hostel while the rest visited a market on Marine Parade, went to see friends or just relaxed at the hostel.

After lunch at the hostel we went for a drive to Havelock North, leaving at 1:30pm. Our first of three stops was the Craggy Range Winery where we could go out to the garden and walk among the rows of grape vines, and see the bees buzzing around them. Next port of call was the summit of Te Mata Peak where we enjoyed a panoramic view all around despite the cloudy weather. Our afternoon tea stop was at a bakery in Havelock North before we drove through Hastings on the way back to Napier. We were back at the hostel at 4:45pm.


In the morning we did a walk around the Ahuriri Estuary Walkway. We began this level walk around the lagoon about 10am, taking just over one hour. The weather was fine and calm, with the water of the lagoon being mirror smooth. Afterwards we drove up to Bayview and visited a fruit stall before returning to the hostel for a lunch of scrambled eggs.






Grace, who had been involved with the Branch but has since moved to Napier, joined us for a guided tour of the old Napier Prison. Our guide showed us through the old cell blocks and exercise yards.  Among the strict rules for prisoners was that no games were allowed, so prisoners made up their own “crash rugby” where they would bowl one another on the hard concrete. Prisoners would come together three times a day for their meals in the mess room. Cages had been built to hold quarantined immigrants, insane prisoners, and to separate members of rival gangs. The one-hour tour finished with a visit to the hanging yard at the back of the prison where many murderers and other bad crims left the world at the gallows before capital punishment was abolished.

From the Bluff Hill lookout afterwards, we could look down onto the port of Napier where a container ship was being worked, as well as the Ahuriri Estuary in the distance, and the Hawkes Bay coastline fading into the distance. This made a good respite after viewing the inside of the old prison.

Grace was invited back to a yummy dinner of roast chicken, sweet corn and vegies followed by fruit salad and cream. 


We were packed, and left the hostel at 9:30am to visit the Mission Estate winery in Taradale.  This was in a historic mission house. We were there for over half an hour looking through the building and the gardens. The large chapel was being prepared for a wedding function.

As usual with the final day of any weekend away, the weather was glorious for the drive over SH5 to Taupo where we had a picnic lunch overlooking the outlet of the lake into Waikato River. We had another break at Tokoroa, and a comfort stop at Waharoa, and we were back in Auckland about 5pm bringing a lovely, interesting and relaxing extended Easter weekend to a conclusion. 


Whitford Trip - Saturday 12 November

A group of six people had an interesting day out in the Whitford area looking at two museums, an open day at a bird rescue centre, and a country garden.

We began with the new Sir Peter’s Museum at Manurewa. This has just been opened, and was set up by the Mad Butcher Sir Peter Leitch. His collection of sports memorabilia, including his favourite rugby league, was extensive. There were framed jerseys, tickets, trophies, badges and much more. A TV was playing a rugby league game.

From there we went to Whitford for an early lunch at Amy’s Kitchen riverside café before going on to a private toy museum. Bill and Kathie McNabney had built up an impressive collection of toys of all sorts. We were transported back to our childhood days as we browsed the extensive displays of dolls, teddy bears, pedal cars, cranes, Hornby clockwork trains, bikes and scooters.  Old brand names such as Tri-ang came to mind, and we were also reminded of doing our school work with fountain or dip pens and Stephens ink. We also remembered eating out of those Bunnykins plates decorated with Barbara Vernon’s artistry. 

The Whitford Rescue Centre was having an open day, so we went on to have a look. Ten years ago when the owners bought their lifestyle block they had a passion for the welfare of orphaned, sick and injured wild birds, and two years ago a charitable trust was wet up. We had a look at birds in various stages of recovery, and enjoyed a sausage sizzle and afternoon tea on the lawn.

Our final port of call was the Ayrlies garden. As we arrived, a light rain came on but this did not stop us from getting out and exploring this lovely and extensive garden. There were several ponds as well as patches of bush to explore. Being at the height of the spring season, the various plants and flowers were an awesome sight. A great way to finish off such a varied day.




A group of seven people from our Branch attended this event, taking the opportunity to see some of Tauranga, interact with the top people of YHA NZ, and make new friends with YHA members from all over New Zealand.

A free breakfast was provided courtesy Tauranga Branch, being cereals, fruit, and toast. Afterwards there was time to walk thru the sculpture garden and 5min bush walk behind the hostel, looking at all the quirky sculptures that had been made over the years by Rex Smart and his helpers.

A two-hour cruise on the inner Tauranga Harbour was organised for 10am on the 'Luv Boat',  As we cruised, our hosts served up a lavish morning tea of sandwiches, bacon and egg pie and chocolate cake.
We cruised close to the foot of Mt Maunganui, and once we reached the harbour entrance we turned around to follow the coastline towards Otumoetai.  We disembarked after 12pm giving us freedom to spend the afternoon how we pleased. Some of us went on a walk around the Elms mission house, the redoubt, the begonia hothouse, the Maori waka on The Strand, and the arts centre in the old wharf sheds. The rest of us either visited friends or relaxed at the hostel.

Just before dinner Rex organised a $2 raffle to raise money for repairs to the canoes at Opoutere YHA. A complimentary dinner of fish and chips served up at 6pm. Our contribution together was $50 with the winner gaining a box of chocolates.

YHA New Zealand Chief Executive Mark Wells and National Chair Coral Laughton updated us about such things as the effects of the Christchurch earthquakes, and preparations for the forthcoming Rugby World Cup.

Once more we were treated to a free breakfast courtesy Tauranga Branch, this time with croissants as well as cereals, fruit and toast before returning home.