• A spectacular glass ceiling shows the Coat of Arms of all British Dominions and Colonies during WWI

Auckland Museum 166 Years On

November 27th, 2018|Tags: , , , , |

It’s an overcast Sunday, the beginning of the school holidays, when we meet on the steps of Auckland War Memorial Museum, and any thoughts that the blustery weather might serve to deter the crowds are quickly diminished. There’s a real buzz around the building as tourists and families throng the forecourt. Waiting there on the [...]

  • The historic Puhoi Hotel

Bohemian Legacy

July 29th, 2018|Tags: , , , , , , |

“If our food, drinks and service aren’t up to your standards, please lower your standards,” and “Free Idiot Test $50” declare two of the many signs in the Puhoi Pub. The walls and ceiling inside the two-storey wooden building, established in 1879, are crammed with collections of artefacts that include bras and bikini tops, caps, [...]

  • St Mary’s College Chapel built in 1865

St Mary’s Bay

June 1st, 2018|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

This now expensive inner city Auckland suburb was named in honour of the Mother of God by New Zealand’s original Roman Catholic leader, Jean Baptiste Francois Pompallier. The Catholic Bishop of Auckland still lives here. But strip away the neighbourhood’s deeply religious name and you find a suburb with a past often dominated by sly [...]

HOLI – The Hindu Festival of Colour

June 1st, 2018|Tags: , , , , , , |

The Hare Krishna temple is ringing with the Hare Krishna chant; this is Holi, the Hindu festival of colour or light, a festival to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, or good over evil. It also marks the passing of winter and the arrival of spring, and like Easter in the Christian calendar, the [...]

What Lies Beneath

March 22nd, 2018|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Devonport is a 12-minute ferry ride across the harbour from bustling downtown Auckland and yet it retains the ambience of a quaint seaside village where much remains the same. Certainly, on the surface, it seems that little has changed since I lived there 25 years ago. The flagstaff stands tall, and heritage buildings still line [...]

Pave Paradise, Put up a Parking Lot

January 27th, 2018|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Many of us enjoy nostalgic memories of a time when the land close to our homes was a productive market garden, but not many of us appreciate how creeping urban development is swallowing up prime land, creating a dire situation for our food production. Left unchecked, New Zealand faces a food shortage. Since 1975 almost 10 [...]

Carving Up Matakana’s Sculpture Trail

December 1st, 2017|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Little Barrier Island appears to loom over the landscape, even though its formidable dark silhouette is 22km across a shimmering sea. Like an ethereal Bali Hai island this unique predator-free sanctuary is clearly visible from every corner of the region. It’s an especially riveting view from the spacious lounge of Takatu Lodge & Vineyard, an [...]

  • Part of the idyllic picnic lawns behind the Mansion House

Walking in the Governor’s Garden of Eden

June 4th, 2017|Tags: , , |

‘Surely I’m not hallucinating,’… as a small brown phantom image flies across the track ahead, leaving me shaking my head in wonder. It can’t be an illusion. Visibility is good in this strangely quiet mature pine forest as I’m walking under a bright midday sun. The light filters through the upper canopy and dapples the [...]

In the Footsteps of a Legend

April 10th, 2017|Tags: , , , , , , |

Auckland’s wild west coast is just a stone’s throw from the city, but once you emerge from the dark bush canopy of the Waitakere Ranges, you feel as though you’re on another plapan> For a family of East Coasters accustomed to the Pacific Ocean and the golden sands of Gisborne, the land and seascape [...]