AKL

22 March 2018

Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island

‘There are those who become so involved in looking at the man-made lights of the city that they unconsciously forget to rise up and look at the great cosmic light and think about it – that gets up in the eastern horizon every morning and moves across the sky with a kind of symphony of motion and paints its technicolor across the blue – a light that man can never make. They become so involved in looking at the skyscraping buildings of the Loop of Chicago or Empire State Building of New York that they unconsciously forget to think about the gigantic mountains that kiss the skies as if to bathe their peaks in the lofty blue – something that man could never make. They become so busy thinking about radar and their television that they unconsciously forget to think about the stars that bedeck the heavens like swinging lanterns of eternity, those stars that appear to be shiny, silvery pins sticking in the magnificent blue pincushion.’ – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tuesday I woke up early and walked across the street to have scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on toast at Dizengoff. Ponsonby Road has many excellent restaurants, but food in New Zealand is expensive. I have to eat about 4000 calories per day to keep from losing weight, so I’m not looking forward to seeing my Visa bill when I get home. It was drizzling, so I finished reading my Samuel Beckett and started a book of Martin Luther King Jr speeches. By 10 the rain had stopped so I walked down to the quay and took the ferry to Waiheke Island.

I hiked across the island, and went for a swim at Palm Beach. I had to throw my hiking boots away – they were falling apart and smelled so bad I couldn’t stand to be in the same room with them – so I’ve been hiking in my flip flops. Several days I’ve walked over 15 miles in them, and they must have over 1000 miles on them in total. So my $20 Havaianas have outlasted my hiking boots, and they are more comfortable – at least in warm weather.

On the way back I stopped for lunch in Onetangi – very good gnocchi with summer squash. By the time I got back to Auckland and wandered around for a while it was time for dinner and walking past a place called Uncle Man’s I noticed they served rojak, so I had to go in. Not the best rojak I’ve had.

Yesterday I relaxed and walked around Auckland. Stopped at the museum to see the Maori exhibits.

Outrigger
Outrigger
Smile
Smile

I’ve had a wonderful time in New Zealand watching the clouds and stars, hiking in the mountains and forests, swimming in the sea.

Serenity

Serenity

This morning I watched a gorgeous sunrise while eating blueberry pikelettes on the patio of Cafe One2One, an appropriate ending to a wonderful trip.

Bad Photo of Beautiful Sunrise
Bad Photo of Beautiful Sunrise

Perhaps it’s done already, perhaps they have said me already, perhaps they have carried me to the threshold of my story, before the door that opens on my story, that would surprise me, if it opens, it will be I, it will be the silence, where I am, I don’t know, I’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know, you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.’ – Samuel Beckett

Auckland

19 March 2018

Odd as it may seem, I am my remembering self, and the experiencing self, who does my living, is like a stranger to me.– Thinking, Fast and Slow

Decided to try something a little different (bungy jumping video deleted due to space constraints).

Bay of Islands

17 March 2018

Low Tide at Tutukaka
Low Tide at Tutukaka

‘There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.’

Drove here Monday from Auckland and decided to stay the week. One location or another in the Bay of Islands is on most every top ten list for sailing, surfing, diving, beaches, etc. for good reason. It’s a stunning area with warm weather and water, secluded beaches, uninhabited islands, and friendly natives who speak english, though often unintelligibly. I’ve rented a bungalow on a hill overlooking the bay for the week.

Bay of Islands
Bay of Islands

Went surfing twice this week on the Tutukaka Coast – haven’t gone surfing in years, but like skiing one doesn’t forget how to do it. Had an amazing time and stayed in the water for hours until too exhausted to go on. As they say here, I was rather chuffed.

A couple of other mornings I kayaked out to some of the islands. Went to Ngawha Hot Springs and sat in the mud and mineral baths one night. Afternoons I’ve been going for long swims. I like to swim straight out from the beach for 15 or 20 minutes until I’m well offshore in the deep water. It’s peaceful out there. Serene. Just the faint sound of the breakers on the beach. I float on my back and look at the sky as the swells gently lift me up, then lower me down, or swim underwater and see how deep I can dive.

Yesterday I went sailing on the bay, then the lady I’m renting the bungalow from took me to the RNZRSA (kind of like the veteran’s hall) for a St. Patrick’s Day party with all the locals; friendly people, but I honestly can only understand half of what they say – I do better in Spain and Italy.

Duke of Marlborough
Duke of Marlborough
Low Tide Wairoa Bay
Low Tide Wairoa Bay
Tutukaka Coast
Tutukaka Coast

Tonight I’m watching rugby with some neighbors. Tomorrow I head south towards Auckland where I will spend a few days before heading home.

Wellington and Northern Explorer

12 March 2018

Wellington
Wellington

Spent Saturday in Wellington. Wonderful, active waterfront with canoe racing, a buskers convention, and the New Zealand Arts Festival all taking place.

Sharks!
Sharks!
Skulling at Dawn
Skulling at Dawn

Took the Northern Explorer north to Auckland on Sunday. Scenic journey along coast then through interior of North Island. It is a beautiful country, but I think the clouds are the most extraordinary thing in New Zealand. The Maori name for New Zealand, Aotearoa, translates to something like ‘Big White Cloud’. The clouds blow across the Pacific, then slow down when they hit the island and form ever changing billowing layers overhead.

Clouds
Clouds

Abel Tasman Track

9 March 2018

Abel Tasman 1

Abel Tasman 1

‘Liberty, friend Sancho, is one of the choicest gifts that heaven hath bestowed upon man, and exceeds in value all the treasures which the earth contains within its bosom, or the sea covers. Liberty, as well as honor, man ought to preserve at the hazard of his life; for without it life is insupportable.’

Abel Tasman 2

Abel Tasman 2

Abel Tasman 3
Abel Tasman 3
Abel Tasman 4
Abel Tasman 4

Spent Sunday afternoon and Monday in Nelson, then took the shuttle to Abel Tasman on Tuesday morning and started hiking along the coast in beautiful weather. Camped at Torrent Bay, then continued to Awaroa Wednesday under cloudy skies with a warm drizzle. Finished hiking early Thursday morning under sunny skies at Totaranui and caught the water taxi back to Marahau. A wonderful coastal hike, although the final section to Wainui is closed due to damage from the recent cyclone.

I’ve done a lot of walking the last few years, and my hiking gear (shoes, backpack, etc.) is wearing out. I, however, feel better than I’ve ever felt in every way. To be alive and at liberty to do what brings one joy is indeed one of the choicest gifts.

Tomorrow I fly to Wellington, and Sunday I take the Northern Explorer (train) to Auckland.

Nelson
Nelson

Christchurch

4 March 2018

Hope
Hope

After a weekend in Christchurch I’ve had to revise my baseline expectations of the damage an earthquake can do. I recently read a book on behavioral economics and decision making, ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ , which posits that we set our expectations of worst case scenarios based on our personal experience and have difficulty truly moving beyond that even when data shows things could be worse. My baseline for earthquake damage has always been the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The damage from the 2011 Christchurch earthquake is much worse. Even 7 years later the devastation is quite visible – empty lots and damaged buildings everywhere. What’s amazing is that even quite modern buildings were severely damaged and are uninhabitable. Does this mean I’m ready to buy earthquake insurance? No, but I may add a couple more days supply to my emergency rations.

Uninhabitable
Uninhabitable
Fixable?
Fixable?

But there is always a sense after the ground moves that not only is everything going to be alright, but there is an opportunity for a new beginning, to make everything even better, to rise from the rubble to new glories. Even 7 years later that feeling is palpable in Christchurch. Why does it take an event to trigger this sense in most of us, especially collectively? As the ancient meditation says, every in breath is a rebirth, an opportunity.

Alice
Alice
Butterflies and Flowers
Butterflies and Flowers

I’m off to Nelson to see what possibilities are there.