My happy place is Auckland. I've just moved from Sandringham to the centre of Auckland city. For the past four years I've lived in a spunky, if cosy, 1970s unit with all the basics except a bath.
I'll miss the breakfast crepes at Voila and the pies at The Fridge and will have to get used to far fewer visits to Barilla Dumpling for their sauteed french beans and pork fennel dumplings. Well, maybe that's a bit extreme. There is always a need for dumplings.
In my pimping new pad the delights of the city are footsteps away. I can see the Civic Theatre from my rooftop and from my window I have a spectacular view of the Auckland Art Gallery and Choi Jeong Hwa's Flower Chandelier.
From my bedroom I see the neon AUT sign reflected in an opposite building as TUA. It makes me wonder if our O for awesome champion has bought his own skyscraper. The apartment walls are so high they make Shaquille O'Neal look diminutive and by lifting what looks like a telephone I can buzz people in. It's just a wee bit flash and I love it. There's a bath, too.
The public library is handy and tomorrow I'll see how long it takes to walk to Specforce, the gym I go to in order to manage my dumpling habit. I wonder how many burpees it takes to work off one dumpling?
For a busy city it's not that noisy either, unless you count the chiming of the bells and the occasional drunk. Sunday morning there was a diligent but particularly noisy leaf-blower. First World problems.
As an Opotiki boy, I've really grown to love Auckland. When the Auckland Arts Festival opens in March I'll be able to walk to all the shows and drift home afterwards. I can walk to the Concert Chamber to perform BREL and I will never have to worry what time the last bus or train leaves the city. This is perfect because, despite having tall walls, I have yet to acquire a licence to be able to drive anyone up them.
The day I get my driver's licence I will be hitting the road to Opotiki, through that beautiful stretch at Matata, rounding the corner from Whakatane to Ohope and hitting the home stretch through the pohutukawa trees at Waiotahe. Magical exhale moment. Ahhh.
And if I should happen to take a day trip then it will be to Palm Springs hot pools in Parakai. They're not flash but the new owners are lovely, and the temperature is just fine no matter what weather Auckland decides to conjure up. It is also a giant bath, which makes me very happy.
Tama Waipara is performing in the cabaret noir BREL at the Auckland Concert Chamber until November 24. Based on the music of singer and songwriter Jacques Brel, it also stars Jon Toogood, Julia Deans and Jennifer Ward-Lealand and is directed by Michael Hurst. Visit silotheatre.co.nz.