Far from where Hillary ‘knocked the bastard off’,
rise peaks that conquer the horizon,
beckoning the intrepid, the brave,
the fatally ill-prepared…
Some sleep, undisturbed by the passing eons,
while others hiss and belch, spewing molten rock
and ash to splatter and scar their slopes.
Taupo, youngest global supervolcano,
hides simmering tantrums ‘neath waters
stocked with trout, tempting fishermen
Glittering black sands,
remnant from Waitakere
(cremated long before records began),
provide vivid contrast to
golden east coast beaches.
Rolling green hills,
dotted with the white and tan splotches of livestock,
send a soul-deep sense of peace.
Small-town hospitality, local bands
playing gigs in community halls,
that brogue that strengthens
as you head south, and the simplicity of rural life.
Civilised society with an English veneer
and a quirky sense of spunk and survival
Wellington takes no prisoners, with
a brusque wind and a taste for politics.
Auckland fancies itself a careful blend of
high society, expensive coffee, smashed
avocado and nightclubs for those who overindulged…
Wines, from Waiheke, Waitakere,
Marlborough and beyond… Sumptuous reds,
bold whites, and delicate rosés
to satisfy the reveller,
the amateur and the truly discerning palate,
no’ necessarily in that order.
The commuter ferries from Waiheke and Devonport
just a few of the boats on the Hauraki Gulf,
‘city of sails’ no misnomer.
Fishermen catch kai moana for dinner,
a staple of New Zealand cuisine
(fine dining meets fush and chups)
and embedded into local culture and lore.
Sampling Maori tradition,
barefoot on a marae,
surrounded by towering wooden sculptures that
speak of ancestors and times long past.
The haka following the national anthem,
an acoustic display of might rattling
the stadium before another All Blacks
Rugby World Cup triumph.
Endless black skies that reveal
the astonishing Southern Lights or
the Southern Cross constellation amid
Moreporks and kiwi send calls through the night,
until dawn brings the plethora of birds
that dominate the aural landscape.
Imagination abounds in Middle Earth,
where wannabe hobbits sip ale at
the Green Dragon Inn and stumble home
to houses under hills.
Adrenaline soars as bungee cords snap back,
rafts plunge down waterfalls,
and parachutes float
far above New Zealand.