NZ Northland

Saying Goodbye

Backtracking to my post about the Auckland Zoo, I must mention this trip was for penguins. While New Zealand, Northland has so much more than waddling critters, this is why I wanted to visit this beautiful country.

So when we head to Auckland to get swept up by the airport, we decide to make a stop at Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter. We come from California—just like these San Diego Zoo penguins—but we don’t get to take a snowcat ride into San Diego enclosures!

“This was definitely worth the pit stop,” my ex says, camera-fetishing.

I enjoy seeing the penguins up close so much, I insist on seeing them again. We get on the snowcat another time. Then we take a tour of the stingrays, sharks, and seahorses, before we head back for a third snowcat cruise.

Once you pay for entry, you can see the penguins as much as you like, they say; and I want to see them more, more, more—

“But we’re on a strict time table,” my ex says, the World of Warcraft jokester.

• • •

After we leave Kelly Tarlton’s, my ex’s epic hunt for New Zealand Magic: the Gathering continues. We locate a small shop mall called the Queen’s Arcade, where the King of Cards is nestled in a den.

He gets his geek on talking up MtG with the store owner and local customers, who are all just as pleasant as everyone else on this trip. As our vacation comes to a close, it only validates my theory that New Zealand’s full of the friendliest kind of people.

• • •

I enjoy some hot cherry blossom tea at a little hole-in-the-wall. They bring out dishes, milk, and other goodies to make the tea an orgasmic experience. I like this. Spending time alone like this. Admittedly, it makes me anxious, but that’s part of the rush.

The wind is wafting gently through Queen’s Arcade doors.

This is a peaceful Auckland.

It’s unlike our arrival.

• • •

And now for the unclimatic ending.

It’s strange how people think that a ten-year relationship should go out in fireworks. People lean towards me, as if asking for more, that ba-boom that rips worlds apart.

But that didn’t happen.

Two weeks after returning home, we sat on the stairwell and—talked a lot. Emotioned even more. We had memories, after all.

Yet lovers don’t cross the world and never kiss.
Lovers don’t sleep on foreign benches without holding hands.

We did this.

• • •

I could not think of a more worldly way, at least, for two friends to discover that they must part.

And I’m not afraid of goodbyes anymore.

NZ Northland

The Lord of the Forest

Thursday is our last full day in New Zealand. On Friday, our flight’s scheduled for departure at 6 PM.

• • •

We decide to go out with a bang by visiting Tane Mahuta, a kauri tree so large, it’s the center of mythological stories. I love me some mythology! It goes like this:

The sky father, Ranginui, and the earth mother, Papatuanuku, are parted by Tanu Mahuta. After his grand prescence separated the sky from the earth, we were left with the world we know of today. Tane clothes his mother with vegetation, and gives a place for the birds of the sky to rest.

The sky, like all fathers, resides above our heads.

Also known as “Lord of the Forest,” Tane Mahuta is otherwordly, breathtaking. Before we left, I read about how its presence felt omniscient; but until I stood there, I had no idea how omniscience felt. Estimated between 1500 and 2500 years old, the tree is pumped up as potentially before Jesus Christ. Or whatever other prophet one might pluck from that time.

• • •

Another interesting factoid we found during our trek: kauri trees have fragile roots that, if traversed too much, will cause them  to die. Because of this, the Lord of the Forest is surrounded by planks for safe arrival and departure.

I contemplate fragility. How something this big could come crumbling down.

• • •

After visiting the Lord of the Forest, we headed to Wairere Boulders for “rock formations.” My ex wanted to skip, but I reminded him that this was the one thing he seemed excited about.

There aren’t many rocks, but a brown-water stream catches my eye. It runs through Wairere’s tropical forest. Bridges cross over it and into thickets of trees, where signs have to direct where to walk.

The road isn’t noticeable enough to lead us alone. We bend through tiny caverns and into the sun, where a bird splays a tail like an Asian fan. This is our spirit guide.

I watch the bird dance. It hops from one tree trunk to the next, wiggling its rump, seeking attention. I try to record it, but it’s so fast, I can’t catch it.

In that momentary glimpse, I realize I’ve witnessed an intricate courtship.

• • •

We spend nearly three hours ducking around vegetation, giant roots, and climbing along fallen logs. At one point, a canopy of leaves hangs above, like a Roman arch giving way to a paradise.

When we finally make it out, it feels like a lucky happenstance. “We’re alive!” I cry.

The roads wind and turn so much, it really felt like we were dead.

Happily, hopelessly dead in Northland.

Next Chapter.