Auckland Harbour Bridge Lightshow

2degrees (or 2°), a mobile phone provider in New Zealand, has installed an interactive light show on the Auckland Harbour Bridge as a promotion and celebration of Auckland’s 175th Anniversary.

The lightshow plays every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 8pm until 11.30pm, from 12 March to 25 April.  During the rest of the week the lights display in unchanging, solid colors, as shown in the picture above, and below.  Like the Sky Tower, the color of the lights is changed to suit any special occasions; the bridge was lit green on Saint Patrick‘s Day.

You can visit the 2degrees Play the Bridge page to watch live video of the interactive lightshow, which is synced to music.  You can request a song when the lightshow is not live, and view the might’s playlist when it is.

It isn’t clear what will happen with the Harbor Bridge lightshow after 25 April.  I think it’s a great addition to the Auckland skyline, maybe even comparable to the Sky Tower, and I think it would be a good permanent addition to the city of Auckland.

Harbor Bridge Lights
Harbor Bridge Lights

Gaytm

Everyone I saw pass this GAYTM seemed to enjoy it.  Many stopped to take pictures.

ANZ bank commissions these transformations of their standard ATMs to show their support for Sydney Australia’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.  This one appeared on Queen Street in Auckland.  I took this photo on Feb. 26 2015.

Below is ANZ’s link.  Google “GAYTM” for more information!

https://yourworld.anz.com/mardigras/onlygaytm/

Gaytm
Gaytm

Te Whakarewarewa

Te Whakarewarewa is a Māori village very near to Rotorua that takes advantage of the area’s geothermal features for purposes that include heating, cooking, and bathing.  It is a village of the Tuhourangi/Ngati Wahiao people, who have been hosting tourists since the early 1800s.

Below are 2 galleries that include 68 images.  To view on imgur, click here.

I visited Whakarewarewa about 10 years ago, and could not remember what to expect on my recent visit.  It is a very interesting look at Māori culture and life in a geothermal area.  It offers access to the village, guided tours, live performance, some attractive geothermal features, and a chance to try hangi, from sweetcorn to a full meal, cooked using geothermal sources.

On Sunday I plan to visit Wai-O-Tapu (Māori for “sacred waters”), a place that I believe has a geothermal focus and a large number of colorful and spectacular features.

Tiki of Whakarewarewa

These figures are guardians, placed to frighten off evil spirits.

Rotorua

Due to inclement weather and other obligations, I’ve just scratched the surface of Rotorua.  I have high hopes for good weather tomorrow!  Rotorua is a beautiful area, and it gets much better than this.

There is a gallery of 30 pictures below.  To view this gallery on imgur, click here.

Devonport, pre- and post Pam

Pam was a category 5 cyclone when she slammed Vanuatu, and she could have been bad for New Zealand as well.  Weather reports said that I had a half day or more on Sunday before the rain began, followed by a solid day of rain on Monday.  It seemed wise to spend that half-day outside on Sunday.  In spite of strong winds, a lot of kiwis and tourists alike had that same idea.

There is a gallery of 12 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.

I decided to head for high ground with a view of the east, to watch the weather develop.  North Head and Mt. Victoria are both volcanic cones in Devonport, fortified by Maori, then by Europeans, today reserves/parks.

In this gallery I have focused on the scenery almost entirely, rather than buildings, guns or bunkers.

Rain started around 2:00pm on Sunday, winds got intense Sunday night into Monday morning, skies were clear and blue by late Monday morning.

Volvo Ocean Race

“The Volvo Ocean Race (formerly the Whitbread Round the World Race) is a yacht race around the world, held every three years.”

– http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volvo_Ocean_Race

See also: http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/home.html

There is a gallery of 23 photos below.  To view on imgur, click here.

It’s important that you understand that I know nothing about sailing, or boat racing!  It is a fine excuse to get out on the water, look at boats, photograph boats, and drink beer.  The remainder of what I understand is:

This year The Volvo crews paused for a mid-race break in Auckland New Zealand, and put on at least one exhibition race during their time here.

SCA is a team of girls, and apparently are allowed 2 extra crew for this reason.  They won the In-Port Race in Abu Dhabi back in January, and Saturday they won The New Zealand Herald In-Port Race in Auckland.
http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/news/8578_A-triumph-in-magenta.html

The next leg of the race is a tough one, crossing the southern ocean, and ending in Argentina.  The race was delayed by Pam, a category 5 cyclone that weakened considerably by the time it came near to New Zealand.  Racing will resume tomorrow.

Hōkūleʻa in Auckland

Hōkūleʻa is in Auckland’s harbor today.  At least one of the guys currently on board is installing a satellite link so that she can broadcast live her next voyage.  He said that she’ll next sail to Sydney, then north around Australia, around Cape Horn, and to England.

Hōkūleʻa is flying the Flag of Tino rangatiratanga, the Maori national flag, and the Flag of Hawaiʻi.

Hōkūleʻa was launched from Oʻahu on March 8, 1975, and has been voyaging for over 40 years.  She is the iconic vessel of the Polynesian Voyaging Society.  I’ve just begun to learn about the PVS, but I highly recommend reading further about their voyages and their mission.

In the image below you can see the lei hung over the maka ihu (points at the bow end of a canoe).

Hōkūleʻa 02

Hōkūleʻa 01

Last week I spoke briefly with a fellow who was making the Haunui, pictured below, ready for a voyage to Rarotonga.  She had just sailed from San Francisco, with a stop in Hawaiʻi.

Haunui 01

Haunui is a waka, a Maori voyaging canoe.  Read more about her here.

In two of the photos above you can see Hikianalia docked in the background.  She has been Hōkūleʻa’s escort boat, but will apparently be replaced for the next voyage.  If I understand correctly, crossing the Indian Ocean from Australia to Cape Horn will be one of Hōkūleʻa’s more dangerous voyages.  Read more here.

Unfortunately the photo below is the best I got of Hikianalia.

Hikianalia

Fairy Falls, or How to Plan an Auckland Day-Trip on Short Notice

There is a gallery of 23 pictures below.  To view them on imgur, click here.

It was a busy week, and I needed to get out of the city on a day off.  As often happens, I had not been successful in making plans or choosing a destination.  So I Googled “waitakere ranges walk”.

I followed the link below, and read about the Forest and Bird site’s Favorite walks in the Waitakere Ranges.

http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/branches/waitakere/about-us/favorite-walks

Whatipu is an amazing area; remind me to tell you about it some time.  Today I chose Fairy Falls.

I Googled “fairy falls”, and chose the link below:

http://regionalparks.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/cascades/track/Fairy%20Falls%20Track

I definitely recommend taking a map.  Spend a little time figuring out how to use the Auckland Council GIS Viewer, linked on the page above.  I didn’t do this, and was fortunate enough to be able to get advice from a fellow hiker who had a map.  I need to spend some more time with this tool myself, but I’m sure there’s a way to print the map.  You can save a screenshot on your phone or computer.  There is coverage in this area, so if the Viewer runs on a mobile phone, you can just use it “live”.  I will invest the time to get to know the Auckland Council GIS Viewer before my next adventure anywhere in the Auckland area.

Google Maps knows of Fairy Falls Track, and was happy to help me get there.

My other piece of advice is to take photos of signs that show track names, when you encounter them, if you are using a digital camera.  Use your phone’s camera, if it will be more convenient to view later on your walk.  If I had taken the photo below when I first encountered this intersection, I would have known later that the Old Coach Road track would bring me back to this spot, very near where I parked.

The falls are nice, as is the surrounding area.  There are a good number of impressive old kauri trees as well.

Auckland Lantern Festival

The Auckland Lantern Festival is celebrated on the first full moon following the Chinese New Year.  This is one of the Auckland events that I like to attend every year.  The lanterns get better every year, and they look great lit up at night.  They look great in photos.  There is a wide variety of good Asian food and drinks available.  This year I took in just a little more performance than I have in the past – not because it isn’t well worth it.  I hope you can see the enthusiasm on the faces of the tiny dancers!  They all gave great performances.

There is a gallery of 52 pictures below.  Or to view them on Imgur, click here.

For more on the Auckland Lantern Festival visit Auckland’s website:  http://www.aucklandnz.com/lantern

The Lantern Festival has a reputation for being very crowded, and for difficult parking.  I parked at Bayswater Marina and took the ferry over, but that meant that I had to leave before sundown (there is a later ferry on Friday nights).  I enjoyed the festival during the day, when there was really no crowd to speak of.  But the lanterns do look best at night.

Albert Park is a nice park and wort a visit at any time.  The stars are some really amazing trees.  I think you can appreciate their beauty in some of these pictures.

Auckland Coast to Coast Walk

This walk has been named by Lonely Planet as one of the 10 best urban walks in the world.

There is a gallery of 38 images below.
For a high-resolution gallery, click here.

While I’ve seen claims that it takes hikers from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean, it actually leads from the Waitemata Harbor to the Manukau Harbour – or the other way around.  Highlights of the 16 kilometer walk include Auckland Domain, and Mt Eden and One Tree Hill Domains.

I took this walk on the weekend of Feb. 21, 2015.

On parts of this walk, such as Mt Eden Domain and One Tree Hill domain, you feel as if you have left the city for the country, and enjoy the various benefits of doing so.  At other time the long walks down city streets remind you that you are still very much in Auckland.  Still, the walk takes in some stunning views, and these are places that you must see, if you have decided to dedicate any sightseeing time to New Zealand’s largest city.

The Auckland Council website offers a map that you should download (link below).  There are signs marking the way, yellow if you go from north to south, blue if you start at the southern end of the walkway.  These are helpful, but I’d recomend that you take something else to help with your navigation, ideally Google Maps, but at least a better, more detailed street map of Auckland.

Auckland Coast to Coast Walkway on the Auckland Council website:
http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/en/parksfacilities/walkingtracks/pages/coasttocoast.aspx

The Short Walks In Auckland website offers an alternate Coast to Coast walk, which it claims offers “… less road, more parks, more bush, more direct, more variety, more views and more fun.”  I haven’t tried it, but they make both guide and maps available for free: http://walksinauckland.com/coast-coast-walk/