Fort Takapuna Historic Reserve

Fort Takapuna Historic Reserve is located at the head of the Rangitoto Channel in the Hauraki Gulf.

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Fort Takapuna, was built between 1886 and 1889 as a military defence fort. It was designed by Major Tudor Boddam, a Royal Artillery Officer.

The fort originally housed two 6 inch disappearing guns and two quick firing Nordenfelt guns.

In 1926-27 the fort was converted into a storage for naval ammunition. The guns were removed and the gunpits roofed over to allow for extra storage. It was used for storage until 1936 when the new Naval Armament Depot was built at Kauri Point.

The brick building was were the soldiers lived. When it was first built there was a deep ditch around it. It has since been filled in and only the small part in front of the barracks remains.

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Behind the barracks there was a series of underground tunnels and magazines.

The three concrete shelters were built in 1942 during the Second World War. These were designed to protect the gun crews. The guns originally came from HMS New Zealand (a First World War battlecruiser). By 1941 there were six guns mounted here, for at this battery, known as Left Battery and two at Right Battery, which has since been demolished.

Two of the guns were sent to Tonga, two were given to the Auckland War Memorial Museum, and the other two were scrapped.

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An Anti-Submarine Fixed Defence Station was also built to house the electronic equipment used to detect enemy ships approaching. The building was altered following the war with its bay window removed.

Fort Takapuna is located on Vauxhall Road, next to Narrow Neck Beach.

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Maungawhau (Mt Eden), Auckland

Maungawhau (Mt Eden) is a dormant volcano in Auckland city.

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Its Māori language name Maungawhau means ‘mountain of the whau tree’. William Hobson, the first Governor of New Zealand, named the mountain and surrounding suburb after George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland. 

The summit is 196 metres (643 feet) above sea level making it Auckland’s highest volcanic cone.

On a clear day the summit will provide views of the surrounding suburbs, Waitakere Ranges, the Sky Tower, Harbour Bridge and Rangitoto Island.

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Its Māori language name Maungawhau means ‘mountain of the whau tree’. William Hobson, the first Governor of New Zealand named the mountain and surrounding suburb after George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland.

The crater is 50 metres (160 feet) deep. The crater’s Māori name is Te Ipu Kai a Mataaho, which means Food Bowl of Mataaho. Mataaho was a deity that lived in the crater. The crater is sacred (tapu) so please be respectful and do not attempt to enter it.

In pre-European times Māori used the site as a pā (fortified settlement). You can still see remnants of the food storage pits.

Vehicle traffic to the summit is not permitted, except for people with limited mobility. It takes about 10 minutes to walk up from the carpark or bus stop. The climb is quite steep.

There is pedestrian access to the summit from Clive Road, Glenfell Place, Batger Road, Hillside Crescent, Rautangi Road and Owens Road.

The Mt Eden Road and Tahaki Drive entrances are open from 7am-8.30pm in summer and 7am to 7pm in winter. There is a lower carpark off Puhi Huia Road.

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Grand Millennium Auckland

Earlier this year I stayed at the Grand Millennium Auckland for a weekend.

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The hotel was built in 1989 as the Pan Pacific. It has changed its name many times over the years. I stayed here previously when it was the Rendezvous.

I booked a club room, which gives you exclusive access to the club lounge located on the 12th floor. The club rooms have the same the same features and decor as the standard rooms – the only difference is that the club rooms are located on a higher floor (my room was on the 11th floor).

The club lounge serves pre-dinner evening drinks and canapés between 5pm and 7pm. There is nothing spectacular spectacular about the food – there are a couple of hot and cold options, and the traditional cheese and cracker platter with dried fruits, sun-dried tomatoes and olives. The service is friendly and attentive.

Each night I had several non-alcoholic drinks (Pepsi, 7Up, orange juice, hot chocolate) and several plates of canapés and mini desserts. So there was no need to actually buy dinner.

They also serve breakfast in the Club Room – continental and A la Carte (preordering a breakfast dish the night before). Alternatively you can have the buffet breakfast in the Brassiere restaurant, which I did each morning.

Grand Millennium Auckland is located 71 Mayoral Drive (Cnr Mayoral Dr and Vincent St).

Mirror Lake, Yosemite National Park

Mirror Lake is a small lake located on the Tenaya Creek in the Yosemite National Park.

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Mirror Lake is in the Tenaya Canyon between North Dome and Half Dome. It is not actually a lake but a seasonal pool of water. It will have its highest level of water in the spring and summer months when snowmelt flows from the Tenaya Creek.

The Mirror Lake Trail is a 3.2 kilometre (2 mile) roundtrip to the lake and back. To complete a full loop around the lake is 8 kilometres (5 miles).

It provides view of the base of the Half Dome, which is reflected in the pool of water.

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Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in Yosemite National Park.

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The waterfall consists of three sections – Upper Yosemite Fall (440 metres | 1,430 feet), the middle cascades (206 metres | 675 feet), and Lower Yosemite Fall (98 metres |320 feet).

The total height of the falls from the top of the upper fall the base of the lower fall is 740 metres (2,425 feet).

The best time to see the falls is during spring when snow / ice melts. By August the falls may completely stop or come to a trickle.

To see the base of the falls there is a 1.6 kilometre (1-mile) loop track from Lower Yosemite Fall Trailhead.

Yosemite National Park is located in the western Sierra Nevada of Central California.

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Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a small Californian beach village on the Monterey Peninsula.

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Carmel-by-the-Sea is located on the Pacific coast, about 530 kilometres (330 miles) north of Los Angeles and 190 kilometres (120 miles) south of San Francisco.

It is an easy village to explore by foot. Carmel’s streets are lined with designer shops, art galleries and gourmet eateries.

Carmel Beach is located at the end of Ocean Avenue for those wishing to dip their toes in the Pacific Ocean.

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Pebble Beach, California

Pebble Beach is an unincorporated community on the Monterey Peninsula in California.

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The Pebble Beach Company was formed in 1919. The Lone Cypress tree features on their logo.

The Pebble Beach Company owns and operates the Pebble Beach Resorts and four golf courses – the Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Course, The Links at Spanish Bay and Del Monte Golf Course.

I visited the Pebble Beach Golf Links, which is home of many golf competitions, such as the U.S Open, PGA Championship and others. It is widely regarded on of the most beautiful golf courses in the world.

Pebble Beach Golf Links is located at 1700 17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach.

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