Graftin Volcano

Here’s Outhwaite Park, which sits on one edge of the Grafton Volcano. You wouldn’t even know it was a volcano, it’s mostly covered in roads and buildings except for this little park. It’s just across the street from the Auckland Domain volcano, and apparently their lava flows overlap (thank you core samples).

There are only a few more I can walk to from work…

Leroys Bush

… is the name of a nearby park we finally went walking in this afternoon.

It’s mostly made up of undeveloped land straddling some small creeks. There are nice boardwalk trails throughout the park because they don’t want people exploring the wild parts. Besides erosion and whatever hazards come from steep hills, the main worry is Kauri Dieback disease, which is steadily killing the 1-2% of native Kauri trees that weren’t logged or built over. Here’s a medium size one… the giants get really big.

As we got down to the coast, things opened up into marshland, and there was even a pool with eels.

I love these forest oases, have done since I first got here.

Winter is coming, but I’m ready

Just this past week I noticed that I have to turn on the headlights for the early side of my morning commute. And at New Years this glorious sunrise would have happened long before I joined my fellow swimmers at the beach.

Winter here is mild: it never freezes (except for car windshields get frost on them sometimes… why is that?). But ocean swimming gets really cold in winter. At the worst, it’s low 40s on land and low 50s in the water.

But I’m ready. Lee made me this poncho out of a couple of oversized beach towels. It will be perfect both to keep me warm and also more modestly change clothes in the parking lot. Win win!

Fishes would be great, but even some loaves would be ok

This was the bread aisle after 2 days of COVID lockdown last week. Actually there was some gluten-free nonsense available just outside the frame, but like everybody else I don’t count that as bread.

Apparently we dodged the contagious bullet, and the restrictions were relaxed after 3 days. Bread supplies yesterday were almost back to normal.

Lockdown!

After months of guilty self-righteousness occasionally interrupting an otherwise idyllic summer, we enter a 3-day lockdown at midnight tonight.

An airport worker (and family) have tested positive forCOVID-19 disease. I hope they will be fine.

Although this setback sucks, I find myself grateful for all the precautions that person took up to now, and ditto for all the thousands of at-risk workers who gave us these past few months of freedom. Now it’s one day at a time like everywhere else.

Dining to die for

We had not one but two great Saturday dining treats…

First was Chocola in Glen Innes. We learned about Chocola because we bought a used patio table from its owner a few weeks ago. He is charming and we absolutely had to go try the food. It was amazing! Thick Mexican drinking chocolate, ceviche, tacos, enchiladas… That picture is me, doing my best to “look natural”.

After some more enjoying the day with shopping, driving around, etc., we were parched, and stopped at the Stafford Road Wine Bar. We had a pitcher of white sangria and a cheese plate… magnifique!

Te Tauoma / Purchas Hill

A volcano that’s been mostly quarried away. The concrete structure in the foreground is left over from the quarrying.

Now the land is in limbo… the long term plan says it will be turned into a park.

Maungawhau / Mt. Eden

Another day, another volcano. Yesterday an earthquake off of New Caledonia resulted in a tsunami warning for Northern New Zealand. I think there were some small waves and strange currents, but nothing significant. Nonetheless, I took the opportunity to go to the highest point in Auckland for a few minutes, just in case.

Castoffs

On my lunchtime walk yesterday I saw two pieces of litter more interesting than the usual.

First was the top of the package of a kid’s toy… the Pixel Sword! If your enemies are made of pixels then I can see the value of a pixel sword, but in real life? Well of course not… kids use toy weapons to pretend, not to fight. Which led me to the very meta idea that kids today play at acting out video games.

A few minutes later I saw this loveseat that had been left under a highway overpass. It’s been tagged, and the investigative team is on the case. Unlawful trash dump inspector… Now there’s a job I would like to know more about!

Power to the people

Updated 14/2…

Newmarket where I work is hardly the Auckland suburb you think of in association with the phrase “Black Power.” It’s a place where independent fashion designers wrestle against— and try to be noticed by — the big chain stores in the huge fancy new mall. It’s in the prized “Double Grammar Zone”, so aspirational boys and girls can live there and go to Auckland’s most prestigious public schools. It’s on the train line just a stop or two from downtown so a salaryman can take a miserable flat and work too much. Newmarket has parks and high-end retirement complexes and software businesses.

But this plaque with its clenched fist sits just at the entrance to my parking garage, next to a ramshackle fence bordering a vacant lot awaiting its inevitable mid-rise building. I don’t have any idea why or how long it’s been there.

What a bleak picture I snapped. The washed-out sky makes the whole scene look downright gritty, but the adjacent cupcake place and designer sushi bar (nasturtiums! purple rice!) would certainly disagree. If I were in a mood to ponder I would be thinking about the enormous power — and associated responsibility — of the journalists and Instagrammers we rely on to tell us how it is.

There is truth in this picture… that Black Power fist lives in that place. And of course, racism is a problem here like everywhere. But it’s not the whole truth, and it turns out — on this day of acquittal — that matters.

Orakei Basin crater

The fourth (fifth? hundredth? augh I’m already overwhelmed) of my 53 volcanoes.

This one’s just a wet hole in the ground, so I had to hike down a long staircase instead of up a grassy trail.

As always, the field guide was full of interesting facts about eruption, the lava flows and so on. But the most interesting fact about this particular volcano is that it is home to the Auckland Water Ski Club… This picture was literally taken from Lee’s office.

Auckland Domain volcano

I took a lunchtime walk from the office to the top of the inner cone of the Auckland Domain volcano on Tuesday.

The guidebook is full of facts and natural history. More or less the same as all of the other volcano facts and natural history I’ve read so far. Although I’m not too worried about whether my readers find this boring or not, regurgitating too much of this volcano trivia is a bit geeky even for me.

This picture, from atop that inner cone, is of Auckland Hospital, which is where Lee worked when we first got here (actually she was in a separate building down the hill, but all part of the same complex). It was that job that gave us the visa that allowed us to come to New Zealand in the first place. The hospital itself, and behind me the Auckland Museum, are situated on the ring of the outer cone, much larger, which had exploded and settled before the inner explosion happened, creating a little island in a giant crater.

Just to the left of where I was standing when I took the picture is a special tree, special in the sense of being important to Māori culture. It has some carved wooden things around it, and a fence. When I was there, a middle aged Asian man was practicing his trumpet playing right there, blowing directly at the sacred tree.

Taurere / Taylors Hill

Two down, 51 to go.

My volcano field guide lists some special points at each site, which is cool. Since this peak was only about a 5-minute hike, it’s important to squeeze in as much meaningfulness as possible.

Among the notable features here at Taurere is a grove of trees that might be descended from some trees mentioned in Māori oral history. A) we didn’t actually seethe trees in the map location, and B) that particular note could perhaps have been a bit more descriptive.

Anniversary weekend

It’s the 171st anniversary of the founding of Auckland, which is mostly important because it’s a long weekend.

We had a quick road trip to Tom’s place in Tutukaka with Astrid before the gravitational pull of her Massachusetts home place pulls her away from all this NZ ease and beauty.

We started the trip with a pie, which is becoming a ritual. Pioneer Pies is a very good pie shop but not as good as the one in Kumeu we’ve been to before.

Next stop, also comfortingly familiar, Eutopia Café and the Dutch cheese shop.

Then on to Whangarei Falls, where they’ve added a grove of trees commemorating the lives of the Christchurch shooting victims since our last visit.

And then to the bach (that’s Kiwi for beach house). We made a quick jaunt to a nearby beach, then cooked supper and watched a spectacular moonrise.

On Saturday we did the Perfect Day charter out to the Poor Knights islands. After a ride out that the skipper described as “sporty” and which had half the boat puking into the little emergency bags, the clouds cleared and we enjoyed a few hours of snorkeling and other activities. The shot of me on the paddle board is a marvel of journalism, because I spent about one second standing up and the rest falling off.

We capped the whole day with a soak in the new cedar hot tub overlooking the ocean… very nice… and another moonrise and stargazing session.

On the way home we took the scenic route to Langs Beach and passed through Waipu, which was having its big summer market and festival. Ate mussel fritters and ice cream cones.

Home and unpacked, we drove down to the foot of our own road to watch the Harbour Bridge light show and of course the Anniversary Day fireworks.

And there’s still a Monday holiday left!!

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