Aotearoa – Land of the Long White Cloud

The last week was a wonderful week. I spent the last 10 days travelling around the North Island of New Zealand and visiting some of the most amazing landscapes that I have seen. I had the chance to catch up with some old friends and meet some new ones but best of all I had the time to relax and get a lot of shooting done. Due to some ignorant people though the trip almost never happened. Wanganui Forest The impenetrable forest along the edges of Wanganui River

The trip was going to be way too short. This much was obvious as soon as I started looking properly at the map to try and pick a route. Its not that the North Island is very big its just that there is so much to see and do there. Our trip almost didn’t get going. Despite being early for our flight the counter staff at Pacific Blue caused us so many problems that we almost missed the first flight. C’mon Pacific Blue, surely if you intend to put people in a position to challenge peoples visas then these people with the power must surely have some knowledge on what visas they are dealing with or at least how to check them. In the end the problem was solved with me forking out another $690 to buy a new ticket which I could then cash in when I got to Auckland though they keep a $50 booking fee.

Map picture

Our trip started up in Auckland visiting a couple of Yolanda’s friends. Eager to be out and amongst the landscapes that I have seen so often in other peoples photography we didn’t stick around for long in the city. In fact I have only 2 shots of Auckland taken from a nearby view point. We decided to rent a car so things would be more accessible for us. We ended up with El Cheapo rented from Juicy Rentals. The lady informed us that we could put 200,000Kms on the clock for no extra charge. I wonder now how much she would have charged us if we went over the limit. We headed across to Rotorua which lies in the heartland of New Zealand’s thermal activity. The area is so active that steam rises up through the grates in the gutters and there are various spots around the centre of town to view boiling mud-pits, geysers and thermal pools.The hills around Rotorua are dotted with lakes surrounded by thick forest. We spent our day wandering the around these forests and visiting the lakes. On a rather damp day we headed south taking the Desert road which is famed for some spectacular views of the volcanoes in Tongariro National Park. Our views were undone by the weather with a constant cloud layer so low that we managed to drive by the volcanoes and not even notice we had passed them until I glimpsed a corner of one in the mirror. We decided not to go back and instead shot straight through to Wellington for a couple more days visiting friends. For a day trip around Wellington we headed out along Highway 2 through the Hutt Valley and into the surrounding mountains. We crossed over and drove part way around Lake Wairarapa. We finished up the day back in Wellington at the top of Mount Vic which offers superb views of the city and its surrounds.

Around Wellington
The suburbs of Wellington

Rainforest, Rotorua, New Zealand

Rainforest near Rotorua

The next day dawned wet and cloudy. We headed off to Wanganui with the intention of paying a visit to the Bridge to Nowhere. It sounded very beautiful. In the heart of the forest lies a bridge over the Wanganui river. It was built some time ago in order to develop the area into farmland but it turned out that the forest was too thick and grew back as quick as they could clear it. Soon attempts were abandoned and the forest reclaimed all surrounding land. What we had heard from other sources was that it was a 45min walk through the forest to the bridge. Which sounded like some great opportunities for a few forest shots. What it turned out to be was a 3 1/2 day walk in and a 3 1/2 day walk out again or a 55min jet boat ride followed by the 45min walk in. Although both sounded like fun neither was what we had planned so we abandoned the trip in favour for a drive through the forest along the river.

Forest Trail, Rotorua In the forests around Rotorua Huka Falls The spectacular Huka Falls near Taupo

After a night in National Park (that’s the name of the town) we woke to heavy rain, low cloud and strong winds. Despite this we headed back into Tongariro National park for another look at the volcanoes. Our determination almost payed off. Although we never saw the summits the day did clear enough so that we got a reasonable look. We drove around hunting for the best views before heading back up towards Rotorua. I’m terrible when it comes to long drives as I am continuously stopping to take photos. What should have been a couple of hours drive turned out to be around 12hrs. Thankfully Yolanda is very patient with me. Another night spent in Rotorua then an early start in order to get El Cheapo back home time. We managed to do just shy of 2000kms in the 10 days. We had no problems at all with Old El Cheapo. We spent the night in Auckland and flew home to Australia early next morning. Many thanks go to Tina and Brian, Linda and Ben, and Karen and Rafa for all your wonderful hospitality that you showed us while we were there.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.