Dancing, sunburns, and rain in Devonport.

Did I mention that it rains a lot in Auckland?  The clouds roll in so quickly that one minute it is bright and sunny, and the next you are soaking wet from the rain.  The first Friday that I was here I was soaking wet with a sunburn in Devonport.

I woke up on Friday morning with my heart set on going to Waiheke – a lovely island just 30 minutes by ferry from the city.  After the rain cleared, I walked down to the ferry terminal and asked for a ticket; but, like a lot of things here, they were quite expensive.  The man helping me suggested I go to Devonport instead; a small town which was a mere 12 minute ferry ride from the port.

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The sun was shining, reflecting on the turquoise waters of the Hauraki Gulf, and I saw the sweet little Victorian town of Devonport in the distance.  As well as two, small, volcanic heads.

My first Volcanoes!

I walked along the coastal path, stopping to admire the trees, and I came to the conclusion in my wild mind that there are three main trees in New Zealand:

Broccoli trees – these trees have smaller trunks but branches that extend for what seems like miles on each side and above.

Broom trees – these trees are very much like broccoli trees, but they have thin roots that grow towards the ground on the branches that bundle together like a witches broom.

Screaming trees – these trees howl when the wind blows through them.  And the wind was blowing very hard that day.  I’m pretty sure Peter Jackson took a sound clip of the screaming trees to use as the screams for the Nazgul in Lord Of The Rings.

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Everything I mentioned above is probably 100% false, but it just make so much sense so I’m going to roll with it.

I saw the volcanic head Maungauika (North Head) in the distance and I continued on my adventure.  My shoes are falling apart already and it wasn’t the driest day so my feet were soaking wet and I was slipping all over the place as I walked up the side of the volcano.  It was a good thing I was all by my lonesome, because I was embarrassed, and I was by myself. #derp

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I climbed to the top and took in a big breath of the fresh air; what a beautiful day!
Wait.
Are those storm clouds rolling in from the city?
Shit.

I ran (slipped) down the mountain and power walked along my previously peaceful coastal path.  The wind was coming in hard, and I could see those dark and damning storm clouds were way too close for comfort.

And then the rain came in.  Sideways.

I found a broccoli tree and stood behind it, taking shelter from the storm (thanks Bob Dylan).  People were walking by me soaking wet, rain stabbing their face (it was super violent, okay?), and I was like, “wow, I am sooooo smart, what a crafty girl I am!”

Until the branches started to sway with so much force, and I noticed the pretty little electrical box right beside me (sorry, Grandma).

I survived of course, the screaming trees stopped screaming, and the sun came in.  Cue sunburn.

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One thing I really find interesting about Devonport, besides the trees and the rain and the electrical boxes, is the history.  When Maoris first came to Devonport (I’m sorry, I can’t find the Maori name for Devonport for the life of me) they used Maungauika and Mount Victoria (Takarunga) as a Pa; a Maori village and/or defensive settlement.  Once Capitano Cook came, and as the years passed, they became very prominent military bases for the British Army, so on each previous Pa, there are old bunkers and cannons and creepy tunnels with bars and locks on them.

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When I climbed Mount Victoria a few days later with some wonderful girls, we stopped at one of the locked bunkers and noticed that there were flyers advertising live music each Monday and Wednesday inside of the bunker.  As we turned to leave, we were approached by an elderly man who offered to show us inside, and we happily followed him into the bunker.  It was set up with a little stage, pillows, blankets, chairs, a wood burning fireplace, photos from generations past, and flags.  It smelled like earth and sweat, and I was so happy to get a private tour.  He told us that an upwards of 80 people join them to jam and listen to music each week!  Once I’m back in Auckland I’m making the climb (hopefully with better shoes) and joining in for dancing, music, and fun.

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So if you’re ever in Devonport, check out the trees.  Listen for the screaming.  Bring good shoes, and don’t stand next to electrical boxes when a storm rolls in.  Climb Takarunga and dance the night away.  Oh, and make sure you bring sunscreen and a raincoat.

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