Farewell to Auckland
I’ve been living in Auckland (or Orc-land) off-and-on for the last seven months as the ManBeast has been working on a job here. In two weeks, though, my Auckland habitation will be at an end as I head Brisbane-side for the start of the academic semester, and we’ll return to the FIFO arrangement until mid-year.
Suitcase living had become a mainstay over the last four years (firstly because of my job, and then because of the trans-Tasman working separation which began in 2011) and generally I enjoy the wanderyness of it. New places to explore, and air travel is still as exciting to me as it was that first time way back in 1992 en route to Great Keppel Island. This is chiefly because aircraft are powered by turbofan engines (exciting!) and I get heaps of time to write, do marking … or catch up on Downton Abbey. But I digress.
The downside to wandering this way is missing your friends (Skype is not a substitute), and all the great stuff back home, like Brisbane’s riverside running track, and Kraft macaroni cheese. But of course, having been here long enough, there’s now stuff about Auckland and the wider New Zealand that I’m going to leave behind. I won’t miss living next to a pub – that wasn’t a particularly great idea. But in this last few days, I’m trying to forget the endless U2 track tape and reflecting on the best of this chapter instead.
Firstly, rum racing. Auckland is a harbour city, and we live right on it. Every week, I’ve walked past massive cruise ships docked right near our apartment, and seen the sails fly past. I joined a yacht club (after a conversation in the gym steam room … that’s another story) and on many a Thursday or Friday afternoon, we belted across the bay on the Higher Ground. We won (rum) a couple of times, had one race ended by the NZ Navy. It was all good. I’ll miss being able to get to the harbour in five minutes. It’s a forty minute drive in Brisbane.
Secondly, the ZXR. I bought this beasty little 250 without much care (still mourning the loss of my recently sold cruiser), seeing it as a temporary ride. But it had spirit and gusto and with the ManBeast’s ZZR stablemate, it went wherever I asked it, which included some places that knobbly tyres probably would have been a better idea. The wheels allowed me to see so much awesome in the nearby region. I sold it a week ago to a new owner, who I hope will have as much fun with it as I did.
Finally, Piha, and the Bay of Islands, which kind of combine the previous two entries with NZ’s spectacular scenery. Piha is a black sand beach about an hour west. The aptly named Bay of Islands is about four hours north. We saw Piha by bike and the Bay by boat. Spectacular. And despite the fact that I flattened my bike battery at Piha (and was given a jump by one of the Piha Rescue guys) and that I spent a day in the Bay trip shit-scared I’d run our charter into something, both were unforgettable trips. Might be worth a blog of their own. I know Queensland has the Whitsundays, which I love too, but the Bay of Island has penguins, which is just a delicious juxtaposition in a place that looks so tropical.
That’s it for now. I could keep going… I haven’t mentioned Phillipe’s amazing chocolate and pastry heaven, Mr Vintage, fossilised trees, the Auckland half-marathon, the hilarious coverage of the Hobbit premiere, or a dozen other places visited, but this has been the best. Farewell, Orcland. It’s been great.