I had planned to just reach Taupo, four hours north of Wellington. There, I would find a night’s accommodation, wake to a sunrise over the lake and then slowly creep into Auckland for the business of international flying.
That was the plan.
Instead, after breakfast, I wandered about Wellington searching for a new backpack. The one I had purchased last year in Victoria, B.C. gave up the ghost when Dan and I were wandering around in Te Papa. Although I eventually found one — a garish yellow color and emblazoned with a huge Nike logo — somewhere over the period of the search I decided to do it. To drive 8 hours to Auckland.
In hindsight, it was a good decision. The southern towns and hills of the North Island were awash in rain showers all afternoon. Nice. A strong rain, as I learned from my Greymouth to Nelson trip, makes it easier to stop the i-should-haves, as in “I should have hiked to the top of Victoria” or “I should have stopped to view the falls.”
I stopped every two hours to stretch my legs and to nibble at the food stands. I enjoyed a very tasty chicken kabab pita in a little town called Bulls. The restaurant owner also happened to own a large, brass Indian elephant bell of the type that I have been collecting. It was an exquisite one. He wouldn’t let me buy it off of him, and the antique shop on the corner didn’t have any more. Bummer. In Taupo, I stopped for the loo and wolfed down the baklava that I purchased at the kabab place. Damn, that was yummy. Outside of Hamilton, a couple hours north of Taupo, I pulled off the highway and ate at KFC, known locally as “Kiwi for Chicken.” LOL, it tasted like the same Kentucky-fried of my youth though!
With the rain, there was little I could note of the passing scenery south of Taupo. But just before Taupo, the sun burst through the clouds and created a spectacular rainbow. I whooped like I’d never seen one.
In the last stretch of highway coming into Auckland, the signs for the airport also announce “Rainbow’s End.” It turns out that Rainbow’s End is Auckland’s theme park, with rollercoasters, bumper cars and cotton candy. I prefer to think of the sign as I first imagined it: my notice that my lovely vacation is at an end.
There is a lot I want to say here: about the way that thoughts of work wormed their way into my dreams last night, about what “going home” means for a woman who recently left her marriage, about what I would have done differently in this trip, about my thoughts of a future living abroad… Lots to say.
But it is 7:30 a.m. here in Auckland and the city demands that I pay attention. I have to go move my car.
See you all soon.