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