Between the 6th and 10th of February, I single-handedly drove more than 1700km on our road trip, circumnavigating much of the North Island.
There was too much drama in merely resizing the 69 photos I picked out for this post, let alone if I were to recount the trip in descriptive detail. We drove from Auckland to Gisborne, then from Gisborne to Wellington – where we saw Sufjan Stevens at the Opera House – and then back to Auckland, continuing further north up to the Whangaparaoa peninsula where we camped for our final night. We sang-along, played I-spy (with my English Rose/Asian eyes), played 20 questions, pulled over at random beaches and lakes, fed ourselves too much, complained about the heat, laughed, cried, fought, read, waited, and waited, and most of all, watched in awe as Sufjan Stevens put on the greatest show I’ve ever been to thus far in my life. I don’t think any concert this year will top his show. I was gutted that he didn’t play my favourite song of his (“To Be Alone With You”) in Wellington, but had played it in Auckland, especially after we drove such a long way – but I’m certain that the Welly gig trumped that of Auckland’s, the night prior. Plus, he played more songs in Wellington than in Auckland. I was afraid that the house was going to come down, after such a raucous demand for an encore, but all was worth the while when he resumed onstage. I feel a bit smugly apologetic to the inexperienced concert-goers who left before the house lights came on, before the encore, before the show was over!
I have to admit, I wasn’t allowed to take any photos at the show, so everything below from the concert are actually contraband – although I did nicely obey and cease to photograph after personally being told off. The one major downside to that is, moments after having been told off, the most picture-perfect moment presented itself, and made me want to cry. I wanted to cry because of how amazing he was, how amazing the show had been, and how I was distraught I couldn’t photographically record the single moment in which all of this was epitomised. When Sufjan got back onstage for his encore and sat at the piano on the very destroyed stage that was covered in props, scattered confetti and leftover balloons, the angle at which he sat, the angle at which the piano was placed in relation to the angle my seat was at… the precise lighting and the way it was cast onto him… everything about that moment was about the most photogenic thing I had ever seen. And in all of irony, in my bag by my feet was my forbidden camera. Furthermore, in my car that was parked a $12 taxi-ride away in Newtown, sat my longer lens. Nonetheless, I felt myself hold that breath longer than any other during the show. I still can’t decide if, when I want to cry thinking about the Sufjan Stevens concert, it’s because of the sheer amazement and awe he brought upon me onstage that night, or because of the missed photo opportunity, or because he didn’t play my favourite song. Maybe it was all three. But maybe the combination of all these things all contributed to making the evening even more bittersweet.
Anyway, here are some photos from the roadtrip. The first beach pictured is a place I would love to revisit:
The random beach we stopped at on our way to Gisborne. First heat attack of the day, once we left the comforts of air con that was courtesy of mum’s Toyota!
Sunset at the beach in Gisborne.
We parked too closed to the water and watched the Seven Swans. Somewhere between Gisborne and Wellington.
Got a bit scared it might come looking for food, so promptly shut the car door after this was taken.
Monsoon Poon in Wellington for dinner.
Good old Wellywood.
Some sculpture thing taking place near the waterfront.
There was a set of nice poetry in the City Gallery that I enjoyed the most.
I always seem more preoccupied with the way a gallery looks rather than what’s in half of it…
Art work outside Te Papa.
View from inside Te Papa.
The restaurant we returned to on the second night, since we couldn’t get a seat previously.
Amazing dinner. That garlic butter on the steak, on the hash brown with the coleslaw, oh my godddddd.
Sufjan Stevens had an 11-piece band, with screens that were brought down or risen off the stage, depending on the projection display for each song. They were also all wearing florescent gaffer tape!
Balloons were released at the end, before the encore.
I never even knew that we had some kind of Army Museum.
Sunset at Shakespear Regional Park.
The morning after.