From Tower to Wharf to Bed

O'Hagan'sAuckland’s Sky Tower is a cross between the Seattle Space Needle and a Russian rocket ship. It is 1,050 feet high. It is part of a large downtown development with hotels and casinos. Of course for New Zealanders this isn’t enough. You must also jump off the damned thing or walk outside high above, along a narrow walkway, tethered of course. It does provide great views seen only before by people in flying machines, from which Kiwis also jump.

From the tower to the wharf is a short walk. Boats of all sizes bob in the water. Folks eat lunch at the surrounding cafes. Corporate bank offices display large sculptures. The tower can be seen from most angles. It’s a good reference for the sidewalk traveler.

Sky Tower 2

We're All Photographers

The Observor

West Harbor & Northland Bridge

Old Town Hall
Old Town Hall

Boys at Ril Looking

My Hostel Auckland

Two Sisters

Hoop Sculptures

Statue In Doorway

Sky Tower From Waterfront

Rum Runner Ranui

Lunch Diners

After viewing boats I went into a downtown department store, the Warehouse (think Xmas Music @ MallWalmart on steroids). Some boys were playing delightful Christmas music on a guitar and stand-up base while staring intently at sheet music. Santa strolled around with good wishes and candy. It was 80 degrees and no air circulation. I became sick.

The pain was so bad I thought I might die. At first that frightened me. Then as it became more intense I felt there would be no more suffering and that buoyed me. The ironic situation, in its dull haze, confused and delighted me. Here in abject agony, possibly on the verge of death, I was balancing the event with the Dharma, the Buddha’s teaching. Who said the end of suffering was going to be easy? Breathe.

I made it back to the hostel where I drank fluids and rested. I had pain in my chest and a very tight abdomen. About 10:30 at night I had a massive bowel movement. That changed things. I started to feel normal, but just.

I canceled my meditation retreat. I’m resting. Merry Christmas. Ho Ho Ho

Deamon Rum



December 21, 2014 12:00 Noon
Auckland, New Zealand
72º Mostly Sunny
14hrs38mins of Daylight

The Southern Hemisphere’s Summer Solstice is today. I was fortunate to spend the Northern Hemisphere’s Summer Solstice last June in Fairbanks, Alaska, only one degree below the Arctic Circle. There was 24 hours of sunlight.

We’ve had a break from rainy weather here and with it came a walk through the Auckland Domain, which contains cricket fields, the National War Memorial, and a beautiful greenhouse complex.

I have two new mates, Laurie, a Canadian milkmaid turned Kiwi by marriage 30 years ago, and Robert, a retired British contractor turned playful rogue.We are all staying at the same hostel and gravitated together by a guiding angel as Laurie would say or by the closeness in age and common language as I would say.

Here are some photos from that outing with minimum comment…

Cricket Grounds
Cricket Fields

Windy Hat

Bird Sculpture

Reaching Statue

Chrome Tree Sculpture

NZ War Memorial
NZ War Memorial – equivalent to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in US.

War Memorial Waterfall

War Memorial

NZ War Memorial 2

Robert at War Memorial

War Memorial Atrium Skylight
Memorial Interior Skylight


Me Mates, Robert & Laurie
Me Mates, Robert & Laurie
Greenhouse Entranceway
Greenhouse Entranceway

Greenhouse Pergola

Lillies 1

Three Birds

Purple Flowers

Wood Closeup

Red Blossom

Two Stone Birds

Red Petals

Fern Shadow
I’m being followed by a fern shadow, fern shadow, fern shadow.

Red Flower 2

Stone Bird Long Beak

Water Lillies 2

On this hot day, Laurie goes in search of more water.

Laurie At Greenhouse

 She contemplates the possibilities.

Laurie Posing 1

Laurie & Columns

Water Dipping 1

 Finding a pool, this Kiwi is unstoppable.

Laurie Cools Off 1

Laurie Cools Off 2

Laurie Cools Off 3

Robert Cools Off

 After refreshing ourselves, we walked across the cricket expanse, past the flying statue and medical center, over the Grafton Bridge, and there discovered the Grafton Cemetery. Once a place of honor to be buried, now a hillside encroached upon by modernity. It appears no living relatives exist for the pioneers buried here. Robert found it fascinating, Laurie thought it would be a great place for a Halloween party.

Old UnderBridge Cemetary

UnderBridge Cemetary

Wells Grave
Wells Family Gravestone, Laurie’s relation?
In Fern Forest
Good on ya mates!



Thursday, December 18, 2014 – 12:53 p.m.
Auckland, New Zealand
S 36º 51.405’  E 174º 45.775’
70º Partly cloudy, occasional rain

The territory north of Auckland is called Northland. It is subtropical in climate. Tree ferns are more common than sugar maples in New England.

Northland Tour Dec 2014

It rains on and off each day I’ve been here. This dictates my travels. However, the air temperature is in the low 70s, so it’s easy to work up a sweat walking as you get rained on.

Rock On Shore

The rain itself is very soft and gentle, at least during the day. In the middle of one night it came down hard enough to wake me up. I then discovered the communal restroom flooded because its one window was left open for air circulation. So it goes.

Rugby Statue

Omapere PathI plotted a route on connected paved roads as close to the cost as I could. The steep hilly roads are narrow and twisting. There is no look-ahead visibility. The speed limit is 100K (62mph) — insane. Did I mention all the bridges are one lane?

Omapere Bay Inlet

Seashore PathSometimes there are cows, sometimes horses in the road. Sheep and goats stay in their fields. Sometimes the horses and cows are loose, sometimes the cows are heading to or from the milking shed. One farmer guided me through his herd while sitting sideways on his ATV, steering with one hand and giving me directions with the other. The directions were either, “Hurry up and pull in right behind me!” or “Get over to the side!” I made it through, there was no cow/tourist accident for the news. I did have to wash cow splatter off the sides of my car before turning it in.

Omapere Bay 1

My drive north plan was vague. If the weather cleared, pull over and take pictures. Otherwise keep driving slowly, pull over to allow Kiwis to pass, find a town with a hostel and hang out.Opo

Finding places to stay is easy. The accommodation hierarchy is Backpackers, Hostels, Holiday Parks, Motels, B&Bs, Hotels, Resorts. My first choice is hostels. Sometimes I find a double, sometimes a dorm.

Mangonui Hotel

I stayed at a Holiday Park “cabin” in Whangarei. It was half a shipping container with a sliding glass door and interior walls designed for easy bathroom remodeling. It also had a large soft easy chair and a TV. The communal kitchen had sinks and range tops, but no utensils, pots, pans, plates or cups. It seemed abandoned, although it was filled with Holiday Campers.

Tasman Sea 6

In Paihia, home of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s founding document, I stayed at the Base X Hostel, one of about eight in this small tourist town. It was the last bed at a reasonable rate. I shared a small room with four Swedes, two Danes, and a German, three males, five females. True international cooperation.

Tasman Sea 2

In Dargaville I stayed at the Greenhouse Backpackers across the street from the police station. The owner was very gregarious and memorized everyone’s name. The next day I realized I left all my food there. Everywhere I sleep like a log.

Used Boats 1

It’s more expensive here. Gasoline costs at least twice as much as the United States, often more. Food is 20-50% higher. That is after currency conversion. It’s expensive for residents too. Milk is very expensive and no one can understand why. They have dairy cows aplenty.

3 Boats & Bird

I did not go to the Cape Reinga Lighthouse on the northern tip of the country. My car rental contract forbids driving on 90 Mile Beach. Too many cars have gotten stuck in the sand and never returned. Also, the lighthouse would have been fogged in.

Ferry to Rawene

So I circumnavigated Northland about 1,100k in rain and fog, but when it was clear I did get in a few photos, which I show you here.

Beach Wakers 1


A few days back in Auckland, then it’s off to a meditation retreat. I’ll keep you posted.


Beach thru Trees 1