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New Zealand:

The North Island

This is the second of my multi-part series on New Zealand. On this leg of our incredible journey we travel 546 miles, for 10 hours 35 minutes through the wonders of the North Island. We leave Auckland for Rotorua then head to New Plymouth and end in Wellington.

See a map of the route.

When you are planning your travel through New Zealand you will be tempted to hire an RV. Whatever you do resist the lure as it has to be the worst way to travel this stupendous place. These trucks are often not in good condition, unsafe, and difficult to drive on the small roads. Plus when you finally arrive at your treasured destination, park the lumbering vehicle, and connect it to its fixtures you have to immediately un-park and disconnect it to drive to shop, or go to the trailhead, or anywhere else. The best way to drive around the land of the new zees is to hire a regular car or four-wheel-drive. You can use it to drive to the same RV parks and stay in the small huts most of these parks have, or stay at any of the other inexpensive accommodations all through this beautiful land. A regular car or four-wheel-drive is far easier to drive on the tricky roads, much safer, more convenient, and you"ll get where you"re going faster.

Driving south from Auckland we soon reach the Second Lake or Rotorua. It is the heart of much visible thermal activity in New Zealand. It is filled with geysers, bubbling mud-pools, hot thermal springs, and the Buried Village (Te Wairoa); so named after it was buried by the 1886 Mount Tarawera eruption. All of these natural curiosities are within easy reach of the city.

Video from Rotorua

Leaving Rotorua you drive to the west coast of the North Island and the seaside town of New Plymouth. Along the way you will encounter fantastic scenery beautiful rivers, cliffs of pumice stone, rolling green fields full of cattle and sheep. New Zealand has very dense sub-tropical rain forests and in them are ferns that grow to the size of a tall tree. It is a long drive but well worth it. Finally, you will arrive at New Plymouth and must take time to take a walk along black sand beaches there. New Plymouth is a sleepy place, but its backdrop is the massive Mount Taranaki/Egmont, which is an 8,261 feet (2,518 meter) high volcanic mountain. It is one of the most symmetrical volcanic cones in the world.

New Zealand is a very friendly place; full of friendly people and animals. But the down side of all this friendliness is that mostly every town is not much more than a little country village. When you have a country the size of Great Britain, with only 4 million residents in it, you could not expect much less than friendly. New Zealanders like to project an image of excitement and thrills; let's face it they did invent the bungee jump. But this is all a front; mainly they are a quiet and mostly gracious people.

From New Plymouth you drive south to the big-little city of Wellington. It is the capital and third most populous urban area of this land. It is situated on the southwestern tip of the country's North Island, and lies between Cook Strait and the Rimutaka Range. It is home to 389,700 residents. Wellington is also the stopping of point for the South Island of the gorgeous nation of New Zealand.

Come join me on our continuing tour around the astounding land of New Zealand.


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