I have a delicate start after about four hours' sleep. The weather, as I lug my belongings into town for morning coffee, is dry, relatively warm and sunny. Certainly more hospitable than Melbourne at this time of year. I make contact with my hosts in Auckland, Phil and Moni, and get the train to their lovely home, which is on the side of a hill peeking out over the green Auckland suburbs.

It turns out it's time for my first lesson on Kiwi wildlife, and just a short drive away from the city is a handy rainforest. There's a free visitor centre and boardwalk, very tastefully realised with a low key introduction to New Zealand's unique birdlife.

We also take in Piha Beach, a popular surf and swimming beach at warmer times of the year. Right now there's only one group crazy enough to be considering going out under the threatening clouds.

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