NORTH ISLAND PART 2
23.10.2014 - 27.10.2014 20 °C
Our final five nights saw us make our way to Wellington for the ferry crossing to the South Island. With so much to see you have to makes choices what to miss/include, so in roughly chronological order we kind of went as follows;
From the sunny Bay of Plenty we drove inland to Lake Taupo and south of it Tongariro National Park. We’d planned to stop at Rotorua, a biggie on the typical tourist route it seems to see volcanic bubbling mud and geothermal pools and spurting hot water geysers but due to Ollie being asleep we didn’t manage the walk around lake Rotorua where you’d see all of these, and instead did a drive through the town and kept moving; a reality of touring with toddler!!
En route the impressive scenery continued, mountain landscapes mostly with stops to see Huka Falls and after Rotorua, some consolation bubbling mud! Waterfall factoid; the amount of water that goes over the falls every minute would fill five olympic swimming pools! We’ve posted a photo but not sure it conveys the size of the falls, and certainly not the noise, Niagara must be deafening!
The famous 18km alpine crossing trek across Tongariro National Park was a bit beyond us, but we managed to see the three peaks in the park nonetheless on a few shorter tramps (Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu). This is active volcano region, the lake being created then enlarged by two eruptions 26000 and 1800 years ago. It was interesting to see how the locals are all eruption-ready just in case another one happens at any point; not something we’re typically used to in Blighty!!
Having covered the circumference of the lake on foot or by car, we then headed for the coast once more; South-East to Napier. Seemingly random farm photos attached were taken en route, a stop as much for me as for Ollie. What’s not to like about spending a few hours feeding a menagerie that includes lambs to cuddle plus rabbits, not forgetting a full-size tractor you’re supposed to play on!
On then to Napier; the art deco capital of NZ, which lived up to its reputation; literally like stepping back to the era of The Great Gatsby. The photos show how pristine the buildings are, a bit too pristine in some ways, making the town a bit like a film set, rather than a living thing, but very gorgeous.
Last up, a drive through wine country, from Napier to Wellington. If anyone is planning to head this way, we’d recommend a detour just before Wellington to take in Greytown and Martinborough; both extremely pretty old-world towns, full of gastropubs/delis/restaurants and of course lots of wine tasting on offer.
Wellington didn’t disappoint either; recently named “the coolest little capitol in the world” by Lonely Planet, we can see why. It has special significance for us as the hometown of a dear friend, so armed with insider tips, we hit the town! Highlights were record shopping, excellent coffee, finding a second Riesling to add to our faves list, and a brilliant morning in the Te Papa museum with some new friends (incidentally a great museum for kids; life size model of a whale’s heart that you can crawl through to see the inside!!). New Zealand has been wonderful for us so far, as the notes and more-so photos probably show. Roll on South Island!!!
p.s. Re. the title of this post; we’re referring to the amount of driving in NZ, which takes you along highways named for their scenery. On the North island we’ve driven on the Pacific Coast Highway, Thermal Explorer Highway, Volcanic Loop and finally the Classic NZ Wine Trail, excellent!!