I've always had a fascination with rainbows with their brilliant, bright colours sprawled magnificently across the sky.
These spectacular displays of light have been the focus of many a song, poem, phrase and more recently, a symbol of the LGBTIQ+ community.
They were also recently used as a motif of hope across Europe during the initial stages of Covid-19 lockdowns, whereby children would paint them on windows for passersby to count.
According to National Geographic, a rainbow is 'a multi-coloured arc made by light striking water droplets'.
They are an optical illusion, an actual full circle, and most commonly produced when sunlight strikes raindrops in front of a viewer at precisely 42 degrees.
They can also be viewed around fog, sea spray, waterfalls or the garden sprinkler.
Upon scrolling through my phone recently, I realised just how many images and representations of rainbows I had captured over the years.
I've been fortunate to view rainbows all over the world, but always found they felt very distant and often as fleeting as they were striking.
It wasn't until I moved to Aotearoa New Zealand in early 2021 and in particular, the Far North, that I started to notice them more frequently and in closer range than before.
It made me wonder if this was simply a Northland phenomenon or if rainbows here were in fact brighter and/or closer than in other countries.
I decided to do some research and to call on an expert to find out more.
It was during my search for 'said' expert I discovered there was in fact no such thing as a 'rainbow expert', or at least not here in New Zealand.
During my campaign to find out more about rainbows, I came to understand there was in fact a giant gap in terms of research regarding these beautiful sky arches.
After attempting to trawl through Google for answers, I managed to finally get a hold of the next best thing- a weatherman from way back, Tony Bromley.
Bromley has been working in the weather space for more than 58 years and is now New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) Principal Technician for Atmosphere.
He started his career with the New Zealand Meteorological Service in 1963 and stayed there until 1992 where it ceased to exist and was later renamed the MetService NZ Ltd as we know today.
Bromley informed me that, as far as he was aware, there were no official scientific studies on rainbows because, well, there wasn't any point.
"To my knowledge, there are only photographs of rainbows, but no official studies," he said.
"You could write a scientific paper, but I somehow doubt it would be a well-read paper."
I interpreted that to mean, for anyone in the Western science world, there had been no significant reason to study rainbows as they had no real "impact" or influence on us as humans.
"Nobody has ever sat down and counted the number of rainbows which appear in the sky each year," he said.
"They haven't been reported on as they don't really have any influence and are mainly judged on the amount of solar radiation they emit.
"They are a refraction of sunlight and their reflection, through the water particles, gives the colours you see."
With regards to whether Northland produced more rainbows than elsewhere, Bromley said a number of factors regarding our climate were likely contributing to their frequency appearing in the sky.
"Compared to other places in New Zealand, there certainly isn't any difference in the number of rainbows in Northland compared to the rest of the country," he said matter of factly.
"It primarily has to do with showery weather and the sun, so maybe down the west coast of the South Island, you may see less, but they still get showers and rainbows, although they tend to get more rain and less sunshine."
He said compared to other countries, he didn't think there was any difference in what occurred there either, however, pollution and climate change could be contributing factors to a lack of evident rainbows.
"The sky is a lot clearer here than in places like Europe, North America or Asia, so even though there are rainbows there too, there is greater pollution which means rainbows aren't near as bright or shiny," he said.
"Compared to somewhere like Queensland (Australia) you probably see more here because there is a lot more showery weather.
"The frequency of rainbows also depends on the time of year, so in the summertime here, the showery weather is more settled and you don't see those same lows coming over from Australia."
So what about how close rainbows appear here in New Zealand? And will anyone ever be able to reach that infamous pot of gold at the bottom of the rainbow?
"Unfortunately, rainbows here are no closer or further away than anywhere else in the world," Bromley said.
"It really just depends on where you are standing and the angle of the sun and where the water is in the atmosphere," he said.
"You could start walking towards them and they could either bounce ahead of you or 'jump' behind you.
"If you are lucky and there is clarity with showery conditions, you may even see a double rainbow, but you will never be able to reach one."
So my theory about bigger, brighter, closer-range rainbows here in Northland simply turned out to be an illusion of my mind it would seem.
Whatever the case, there is no doubt rainbows are magnificent and intriguing and one of life's beautiful miracles.