April 2, 2000-New Zealand, A Great Place
If you ever get to Auckland, New Zealand, you owe it to yourself to get to Queen Street at about midnight on a warm Saturday night. The place is jumping, let me tell you. Every mag-wheeled, rear-spoiler'ed, bass-thumpin hot rod, freshly waxed and full of kids, is there. Plus every tight pants teenage'd Lolita, every Jonah Lomu wanna be and every Japanese tourist is there too. The street is jammed and the adults really don't like it. A middle aged tour bus driver told me the rowdies act like they own the place, (the kids, he meant). "This isn't how it was 20 years ago," he said. Good thing, to my way of thinking.
We went to see American Beauty at the Force Cinema tonight, after a full day of sanding the bottom paint off of WINGS and a nice dinner at a quiet cafe with too much good New Zealand wine. The movie was terrific, (the ending we'll leave to you) and the Force Cinema is something else.Six stories of high tech imagination and a big atrium up the middle. You expect to see Luke Skywalker with a light saber on the top catwalk. Strolling back to the car we felt swept up with the life on Queen Street. Midnight! What a place. The bookstores are still open as are Wendy's, Macdonald's and a dozen or so rock clubs with 250 lb. Pacific Islander's for doormen.
The darkest place we went to was the boat yard where WINGS sits exposed on a set of stands. No light here except for five sets of spreader lights from Georgia, the worlds largest sloop, sitting next door, just past Marie Cha III, hauled out for a new bottom, and Morning Glory and Bumble Bee 5, waiting for the next race. Yep, no matter where you look in Auckland these days, it’s a happening place.
But Auckland isn't all of New Zealand. Besides every good piece of boating equipment known to man, every car stereo store, punk clothes store and trendy restaurant, besides arts and culture, great wine and lots of Irish beer, and unbelievable rugby football, besides bangers and mash and Kauri Forests, there is more to New Zealand. There's volcanoes, (still live), and sheep (enough for Africa). There's fiord land and farmland, and Maori carvings with features that'll shock your Mom.
And most of all, there are Kiwis. Not the birds, the wonderful, real, honest to goodness, laid back, neighborly, down home folks we came to know and love in this country. They are great, and they are the best.
We'll be sorry to leave this town and this country, it really has a lot to offer, its great, and we're just coming to kind of know it. But our time is drawing nearer. We'll soon be on our way. But if you have a chance, come on down under. New Zealand is worth seeing.
Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Auckland