Highwic Historic House

Newmarket is a chic shopping district just outside Auckland City. It’s got bookstores, grocery stores, department stores, a fancy movie theater, and even an IKEA — everything the modern person could want. Whether it’s clothing or accessories or makeup or hardware or furniture or even a car, just head to Broadway St and walk up and down until you find it.

It’s even got a historic manor-turned-museum, literally right off the motorway.

Highwic House dates back to the mid 1800s and was built by Alfred Buckland (one of his many grandsons would later name Bucklands Beach after him; I’ve taken a few trips out there).

Walking up the pathway, the first thing that jumps out at me — besides the lush vegetation, of course — is the color scheme of the house. Makes me think of ice cream for some reason, maybe because one of my favorite ice cream places uses pastel pink and yellow in their logo!

I decided to take a roundabout route up to the house so I could see the grounds first. As I turned off to the path, I saw this gnarly tree!

Heading around the side path, there are some nice stone stairs leading back up toward the gardens…

…and a little gazebo! How cute! I’m not sure what the purpose of this is, but I like it.

There’s a lot of nice little wandering paths through the gardens. Must have been a lovely place to walk for the onetime residence of Highwic!

When life gives you an orange tree, photograph it and put it on your blog.

The gardens have nice Winter plants and look quite pretty! Some of the planting beds were a bit shabby, which I suppose is to be expected for this time of year.

Coming up to the house itself, there’s a fairly large lodge building in addition to the main house.

Wandering inside, you can see it’s quite spacious (and has, anachronistically, a small electric heater in the corner as well as a large fireplace). You can actually rent this hall for weddings and events and the like!

The house itself costs money to go in, and I declined to do so because I thought I’d be coming back at a later date. Turns out I didn’t, so maybe I should have opted for the tour. Ah, well, at least it will still be there if I do decide to come back!

Even though we didn’t get to go inside, I hope you enjoyed this brief tour of Highwic House!

Come back next time for a visit to someplace a bit further afield. Spoiler alert: I get to use my big lens again :)

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Bastion Point and Mission Bay

Mission Bay is not too far from the city, across the Panmure Bridge, and is home to some shops, a movie theater, and two lovely parks. We’ve been here before, and I’ve visited many a time, but with the weather nice and a desire for photography in my heart, I headed out once again.

Perhaps the most recognizable feature of the lower park is this fountain. It’s quite large, and on nice days you will often see small children playing in it. More than once I’ve been meeting people at Mission Bay and we have said we’ll meet at the fountain. Nobody has ever been confused as to which fountain we’re meaning.

Mission Bay is one of the closest beaches to Auckland. The water of the bay is generally quite warm — not so much this time of year, of course, but I went in once on a crisp day in early December to find the water actually felt warmer than the air!

I’m not here to lounge around the beach, though. Attractive though that prospect is, I didn’t carry 40 lbs of camera equipment over here to sit around on the sand. If we walk down the road a bit and go up this nice set of stairs, we will find ourselves walking up to Bastion Point.

Bastion Point’s most prominent feature is this, the Michael Joseph Savage memorial. This too carries a park-like atmosphere, with some older gentlemen playing with a remote-controlled boat in one of the ponds. I don’t know much about Mr. Savage, but I hope he would be pleased that his memorial hosts many kids (of many ages) playing around in front of his monument.

(If the 35mm lens has one flaw, it’s that it generates lens flares like it’s filming a Michael Bay movie. I don’t always notice them until I get back since I’m not in the habit of looking at every shot after I take it, so it’s quite annoying. C’est la vie when you’re an amateur-grade photographer I suppose).

The sun is shining, the flowers are in bloom and covered in a nice sheen of dew…all is right with the world.

Lion-head fountains are always classy!

There’s more to the park than just the memorial, though. We’re going to venture down the hill a bit to one of my favorite photo spots.

Here we are: an old WWII lookout post!

Using a bit of gumption even a fairly unfit person such as myself can scramble his way onto the roof of these lookouts. It’s easier when alone, as one’s dignity may not survive the climb.

The shots are worth it, though! I love this photo of Auckland. Ahh, how I’ve missed this city!

Just for fun I took a behind-the-scenes photo too :)

I did make a subtle jab earlier at the older guys playing with their toy boat, but I confess I have a toy of my own I wanted to play with as well.

Here we have Mt. Rangitoto, photographic subject extraordinaire. This shot is with the 35mm lens sitting on my tripod. If you look in the harbor below the island, you see a small lighthouse.

Let’s Zoom and Enhance ™ to get a better look at that lighthouse. But it’s pretty far away, so even 150mm doesn’t show it all that clearly.

So let’s Zoom and Enhance some more!

Yes, the 35mm isn’t the only new lens I bought. I also have a superzoom lens! This shot was taken at 450mm; the lens can go to a max zoom of 600mm (unfortunately, the little lighthouse did not make a particularly interesting photographic subject at 600mm).

Moving away from the lighthouse, it’s always fun on nice days to see all the sailboats out in the harbor!

It can also be fun to zoom right up on them and look at the people in the boat!

Thanks for joining me on this little excursion! Next time we’ll take a little jaunt to an even more historic location!

The Return to Auckland!

Friends, I am back!

Yes, as of early June I’m back in Auckland!

Naturally one of the first things I did was to climb Mt. Eden and take a photograph of the city :)

I’ve got some adventures to share with you too! Some familiar old locations and some new ones. It’s Winter right now, sadly, but I’ve still found some windows of nice weather to head out and explore!

One thing I’ve found that’s true for me (though may not be true for you) is that I really need a home base before I can really feel comfortable enough to go exploring. This is my new apartment, and literally the day I moved in I started going out on adventures.

My friend Tyson and I headed out to see Hunua Falls. It was a quick trip (and actually a stopoff as part of a trip out to the Waitawa disc golf course). That’s just the sort of place New Zealand is. You can make a quick jaunt out to see something amazing as part of a normal trip.

My new apartment is in the Viaduct Harbour area, and indeed is so close to the harbor I can see a bit of it from my window. I saw this rainbow right outside where I live one rainy day!

Living right on the harbor means I see some interesting sights. One day I looked out of my window to see a cargo ship the size of a city block docking at the port!

Another day there were two Chinese warships right outside the hotel next to my building!

When I’m walking back to my apartment in the evening I often get to see nice sunsets. Here the setting sun has put so much color in the sky that Rangitoto gets some of it too!

Victoria Park, where some friends from church and I like to pray, is frequently the beneficiary of New Zealand’s spectacular sunsets as well!

I took this shot while walking back from meeting a friend at Auckland University. That is a clear Winter sky and a nice crescent moon!

The city herself continues to delight and amaze. Living where I do, I was trapped by the Americas Cup parade (literally; there was no way for me to get from the Viaduct area to anywhere else until the parade passed by). I decided to stand by and enjoy the spectacle.

Some friends and I attended the Maori New Year celebration at Sky City.

There were some Hawaiian dances (why there were Hawaiian dances at the Maori New Year celebration was, and remains, a mystery).

I have been continuing to chronicle the many colors of the Sky Tower and enjoy its presence in my life once again.

Auckland, how I have missed you. May our adventures be many.

Raleigh’s Historic Oakwood District

It was a warmish, clear day in April, and I was looking for something to do. I had been wanting to explore Oakwood for a while, so I figured I’d take a trip out downtown with my camera.

Oakwood consists of two areas: some neighborhoods with windy streets and old houses, and a cemetery. We’ll explore both today.

Minor photography note, every shot in this post was taken with my 35mm prime lens, which is new to my repertoire and which I’ve really been itching to try out!

Getting right to it; this house is so fancy, it has a name: the Tucker House.

This house has quite a large tower in the front, presumably for the convenience of the local ghosts.

This house has a color scheme that probably looks best in late December.

One of the few things I both learned and retained from my trip to Monticello half a lifetime ago is that Thomas Jefferson was all about the octagon and used it in his own architectural designs wherever possible. I don’t know if this house’s octagonal tower was inspired by Jefferson or some other visionary, but it certainly looks cool!

I did take a lot of pictures of houses, but after a while they get a little boring. Have a stone lion instead.

The houses also did not prove to be much of a challenge for my 35mm lens, so I took some flower photos too.

There is in fact part of a house in this photo.

I also ran across this guy, the Political Protest Mexiraptor. Dinosaurs can’t vote, but he still decided to do his part in US politics.

Don’t move on too quickly from this photo. Take it all in. There’s a lot. When you’re done, go back and admire the stone gargoyle in the background who is having none of it.

I am, and always will be, a sucker for swings hanging from trees.

Probably if you live in one of these houses, strangers walking around taking pictures of your home and your flowers comes with the territory. At least I hope so, because I certainly did.

But you get the point. There are houses.

We now venture into the cemetery to take pictures of things that aren’t houses, at least not in the traditional sense.

Those of you familiar with the Raleigh area might see some names here you recognize from around town. This obelisk commemorates Richard Stanhope Pullen, who donated the land to the city that would become Pullen Park.

I didn’t know until this trip that senator Helms was buried here.

Indeed, the paths through the cemetery lead by many incredible, ornate monuments.

Coming across this sight, I contemplated having my body’s resting place be underneath a monument replete with stony visage gazing out at all who approach. I believe the following adequately sums up my feelings on the matter:

Bury me in a pauper’s tomb
this is all I crave;
no ostentatious monument
will keep me from the grave.

No granite obelisk need I;
no mausoleum of stone;
all I ask is a plot of land
to lay my weary bones.

I need no costly resting place
when to my grave I roam;
’tis enough to know that I was loved
while this earth was my home.

So do not set my legacy
upon this mortal ground
for when I die, I’m confident
my soul is Heaven-bound.

I do appreciate, however, the colorful trees and flowers around the cemetery. If my mortal remains could nourish something like this, I’d be content.

I doubt those buried under the fancy tombs rest any more peacefully than those under this dogwood tree.

And with little effort, nature’s obelisk overtowers man’s.

I hope you enjoyed this tour through the houses of Oakwood’s living and dead.

Next post will be a bit further afield.