When I timed my trip to New Zealand, naturally I didn’t look up to see what big events were on (or not!). So I arrived on the last weekend of the World Masters Games, like the Olympics for all age groups, meaning every hotel in Auckland had long been sold out. Not a peep, not even an Airbnb.
How to solve this dilemma? I had been hoping to visit a Benedictine Abbey on the North Island of NZ on this trip but to do so meant hiring a car, two long drives there and back and it would have used up a lot of my time. I did some lateral thinking and found the St Francis Retreat Centre in Auckland. They allowed ‘private retreats’ (that is, no involvement in your stay from a priest/brother), it was fully catered and had private rooms available.
I arrived at crazy o’clock in the morning to the airport and was allowed to pitch up at the Centre from 7am.
Everyone was at Church when I arrived (the office staff weren’t there yet), but I could see that the dining area was set up for breakfast. From my distant past in the seminary, I recalled staying at similar places in Ireland in the 90s and, while it wouldn’t win an interior design award, the place was well-kept, clean and prepared for all needs.
I thought it was interesting to see a representation of the Madonna & Child in perhaps a Maori depiction?
Tables set out for breakfast-takers.
I was VERY glad to see a washer/dryer in the Centre to get everything laundered for my trip!
When lunch came around, I was told the chef was famous for her cheese scones. They came out piping hot and when pulled apart, the cheese was melting and delicious in the middle! Perfect for watching your weight! Ish!
I can tell you this broth was utterly delicious. I don’t know what magic powders were in it but it was a stunner – deep and flavourful, fresh herbs on top.
With sleep all over the place after a 13.5 hour flight, I took to the local park to have a walk. And how beautiful it was!
The Centre had its own gate directly into the park, though it wasn’t easy to find once you had gone off for a wander!
What a lovely way to settle into the time zone and Auckland! I’d highly recommend staying in a retreat place. It doesn’t mean you have to get involved with religious matters if you don’t want to, they tend nowadays to be places where you can go and chill out. This one had fast wifi and a TV if you wanted it. And the brothers at this Centre were charming and very welcoming to all their guests.