Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Crosses, Dolphins, and the Missing Day

The flag of New Zealand:  the Union Jack, the Southern Cross,
and the blue of the ocean and the sky.
We've been in New Zealand since May 20.  Curious thing:  we left Hawaii on May 18, around 11 pm.  We had only 3 or so hours of May 19, until we crossed the International Date Line into May 20 ... how strange.  The only time in our lives that a day was only about three hours long.  That was weird and more than a little disorienting.

Auckland skyline, photographed from inside
the ferry terminal (you can see the reflections
from the glass windows).  A spectacular skyline.
Spectacular west window celebrating the Creation
in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Auckland
Our first two days were in Auckland, the largest city in the country (but not its capital).  We did lots of big-city things like riding in buses, exploring on foot, getting a view of the city skyline from a ferry in its harbour, and
attending church at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity (the newest cathedral in the Anglican Communion, completed just a few years ago).

Church was lovely, the service out of the New Zealand Prayer Book.  They said the Lord's Prayer earlier in the service than we usually do, and it was said in Maori.  Barry and I listened, as there was no way we could pronounce the words quickly.  We met the assistant priest there, who has been ordained for 18 months; she was quite excited that next year this cathedral will host a meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council.  That is surely a feather in their cap.

The other big city thing we did in Auckland was to go to the movies:  we saw the latest "Pirates of the Caribbean" and it was a little bit of Americana, a little reminder of home.

Once we left Auckland, though, we traveled to a much more rural place.  We spent two nights on the Coromandel Peninsula, due east of Auckland.  This is an incredibly beautiful place where craggy mountains, rain forests, windy roads, deserted wide beaches, the Milky Way, and pods of dolphins interplay in a wonderful and sometimes unpredictable ways.

A coastline view of the Coromandel Peninsula
For the first time in our lives we saw the Southern Cross, the constellation that corresponds to our "Big Dipper" in circling the Pole.  In this case it's the South Pole, not the North.  The Southern Cross is a "small" constellation but incredibly clear and bright--just lovely.  It sits smack in the middle of the Milky Way.  You can see that New Zealand has chosen to put the Southern Cross on its flag.  Here the night sky is an amazing show of vivid and glittering stars.  The night we first saw the Southern Cross we were also treated to two or three meteors arcing across the sky--it was near the peak of a minor meteor shower in mid to late May.  It was splendid.

It was so amazing to realize that the constellations we see near our horizon--such as Scorpio, the Scorpion--are also visible in New Zealand near their horizon as well.  I was challenged by the fact that the constellations look the same as they do to us in Connecticut.  Shouldn't they be upside down or inside out or something, since we're seeing them from the Southern Hemisphere???  But think of this a while and you realize that these constellations are so far away that no matter where we stand on the Earth we'll see them looking pretty much the same.  That was an interesting thing to ponder.

The people we have met here are uniformly friendly and welcoming.  This morning I had an interesting conversation with our B&B owner in Coromandel who is fluent in Hebrew, both ancient and modern.  We spoke of Hebrew words that are easy to mistake for one another, we deepened our talk by considering mysticism in both Judaism and Christianity, and we ended our conversation by sharing our love for the songs of Leonard Cohen.  Just one of the interesting and warm Kiwis we've met.

1 comment:

  1. Barry and Marilyn,

    Kia ora koutou from Stamford!

    Following your journey, albeit virtually. Nice pics and fascinating stories. Work on that Maori and keep the posts coming.

    Noho ora mai rā, nā Chris Fallon!