After barely 48 hours in New Zealand, we have learned one thing beyond doubt: this place is a meteorological wilderness. We who have lived all our lives in San Diego are like toddlers, lost in and bewildered by it.
We have weather in San Diego, of course. Some folks say it’s the second best in the world (after the Canary Islands). But it’s mostly the same weather. It varies from one part of San Diego County to another, and (in subtle ways) from one time of year to the next. But even in the winter, when the rain comes (if it comes), storms roll in slowly then often last for days. Weather unfolds in slow motion (when it’s not stuck in the loop of early-morning-clouds giving way to balmy late mornings.)
It is spring now in New Zealand, a season that travel guides recommend. But I’ve been dismayed in recent weeks by what I was seeing on my iPhone weather app for Auckland (our first stop). It’s looked a lot like this. Or worse (no sun of any sort). When we arrived, Monday, the icon was Rain.
However, when we emerged from the airport, the sight that greeted us lifted our tired spirits. Blue sky was interlaced with puffy white clouds. The weather app was wrong! I rejoiced. This would be a lovely day.
Now, two days later, we realize that the weather app is just hopelessly simplistic for weather the like of which they have in New Zealand. There is no icon for Many, Many Kinds of Weather, changing rapidly from one type to another. Monday morning after we got our rental car, drove to our home-exchange house, settled in, and made our way to the closest grocery store to stock up on basic supplies, it had started pouring. When we emerged from the grocery store, the rain had stopped, but the skies were dark and threatening
Back at the house, we ate lunch then napped for about an hour, before driving the 15 minutes to catch the ferry to downtown Auckland. Once aboard, the sun was out again, and the city looked glorious.
The boat ride took ten minutes, then we set off to follow a Lonely Planet walking tour of the Central Business District. This ramble took about two hours, and showed us a city radiant with spring: sunny and flowering and so warm I had to keep shedding layers and stuffing them into our daypack.
We caught the 5:45 ferry back to the north shore, at which point it was pouring rain again. When it rains with such intensity in San Diego, you know that it will last for at least 24 hours. Here, however, the deluge had stopped when we got back to Devonport, cozy under a full rainbow.
Things have continued in this vein since then. A half hour ago, a mixture of hard rain and hail was pelting our front yard. Now the wind is blowing in an excessively noisy manner, and all the trees are whipping about violently.
We are slowly adjusting to the idea that we simply must take all our layers and rain gear and be prepared for the world around us to transform itself within minutes. As Steve points out, he and I do not travel to experience places that are just like home. By that standard, this trip is already a raging success.
And you’re only just at the start of “amazement “. Wait for the south Island that combines Norway and Hawaii..it is a biosphere with lesser biospheres inside Looking forward to your reactions.
Almost sounds like a southern hemisphere version of Ireland! Judi >
No kidding! That’s the only place that comes close to what we’ve experienced here. But we were in Ireland in 1994 and kind of forgot what it was like. Wild indeed.
It’s good that you are intrepid travelers prepared to explore come hail or rain water!
But we’ve been training for it pretty much all our adult lives.
Welcome to the Netherlands, or rather to the weather we always encounter on our frequent visits here.
From which experience, here is a suggestion: Ask locals if they have a 2-3 hour weather app you can download.
The one we use in Groningen predicts weather for only that long, but it is very very precise because the weather is already on its way in or out. Everyone lives by it. Say you know you want to get to Museum A, which is a 20-minute walk away. You can see to the minute when your next 20-minute break will come, you wait, and you make a run for it.
They may not have one but, if they do, it will simplify your life there, or at least dry it out.
That sounds brilliant (almost unimaginable to a resident of San Diego, with its boringly steady great weather!) I haven’t yet found a similar app for here, but I will keep asking.