John & Anne Wiley

2017/01/28

Over The Rainbow

Rainbows appeared everywhere we’d been on Oahu & Maui, and it was all the more magical to lift off from HNL toward New Zealand cruising miles above the rainbows. We passed over Kiribati, which holds fascination for me since Y2K when it featured in New Year celebrations as the first place on earth to greet the new millennium. Alas, it was lost in clouds below us, and foretold of fuzzy weather awaiting us in Auckland after our 9-hour flight.

182947 Gray Greeting

182947 Gray Greeting

In the hazy distance you can just make out the Sky Tower, a tiny point on the horizon just left of center. We descended over the island and saw many hints of what was ahead, yearning for clear air and windows that open. Rather than take the rather expensive new light rail, we opted for the cheapo shuttle bus with lots of locals and other visitors to chat with, giving us an intro to the city. Of all the fun scenery along the route, this dance bar sign caught my Yankee psychologist eye.

125618 You Are Wanted

125618 You Are Wanted

By the time we checked into our cozy affordable room right in the heart of Queen Street downtown, it was getting dark as we ventured out into the mist.

8117 Into Mystery

8117 Into Mystery

Despite all our Dreaming and Planning we had little clue what to expect, so a sweet sense of mystery brightened our weary eyes. We’d paid the relatively small extra fee for a “SkyCouch” but didn’t get more than half a night’s sleep (we’re told ANZ’s Premium Economy is better & cheaper). After an hour of wandering a few blocks we settled in and dreamed the night away.

Morning found us blearily greeting a new reality, both in Kiwi country and because Anne’s phone with expensive NZ calling plan died. If you have a “smart” phone, you’ll guess the trauma that entails at the start of an enchanted adventure. After doing all I could to resuscitate it without tools, the view from our window of Auckland Town Hall coaxed us “half-connected” out beyond Cyberia into the colorful new world around us.

8133 Window On Wonderland

8133 Window On Wonderland

We love Auckland! The architecture, people, and enchanting mix of calm cosmopolitan bustle. It totally made up for the fuzzy weather (see the Sky Tower disappearing into it?), especially after French Coffee at the cafe around the corner. Across the street is this fanciful square in front of the concert hall.

8197 Art Walk

8197 Art Walk

In our already altered state, the creativity here helped us see the artistic magic in everything (and everyone) on our meander down Queen Street.

8185 Green & Human

8185 Green & Human

It’s a great place for walking, with little traffic compared to other big city cores and lots of green. Though there are lots of people on the wide sidewalks, as conveyed by this pic…

8180 Quiet Din

8180 Quiet Din

…we were well spread out and mostly moving at a sedate pace in remarkably quiet yet colorful and stimulating surroundings. Plenty of tall buildings to gawk at, with a wide array of styles and eras welcoming yet another boom of new construction.

8174 Architectural Variety

8174 Architectural Variety

One surprising landing we made on our walkabout was at the music shop. Surprising because we’d packed very light for 5.5 weeks in climates ranging from tropics to snow: one small “travelpro” checked bag and small soft backpack each. After all that frugal winnowing of every square inch, only the muse can explain our purchase of this candy apple red ukulele to poke his head out my backpack on the rest of our journey.

8199 Creative Impulse

8199 Creative Impulse

Well, we also got a great deal (esp. with USD exchange rate) and we love the bright tone.

With low clouds and only two nights before our quick jaunt to Australia, I didn’t try to ferret out any GA flying options. Instead we went up in the Sky Tower and got this glimpse down at our hotel.

8430 Down Home

8430 Down Home

Looking up across the island we could almost make out the airport in the hazy distance among the gradually clearing cloud cover. Rising above the streets we’d wandered, our hearts were already starting to move toward the journey beyond.

8312 Beyond The City

8312 Beyond The City

In a few hours we were already back aboard another airliner climbing toward Sydney, glancing back where we’d just been in that distant tower. From these two high perspectives, we’d begun to sense the adventures awaiting us after “Oz.”

8456 High Perspective

8456 High Perspective

Yet as we got this last glance back at the New Zealand coast, a touch of melancholy upon leaving this sweet place quietly passed, before we looked ahead to the vast cloud-dotted blue of the Tasman Sea.

8493 Looking Back & Ahead

8493 Looking Back & Ahead

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