Last month Liam and I went on holiday to New Zealand. The country is incredibly diverse, and we were only there for three weeks, so it’s difficult to put into words everything we saw. Whatever I write is only going to scratch the surface.
New Zealand is comprised of two islands, North and South, and is approximately the size of the eastern seaboard of the United States, (think of it stretching from New York City to Florida, about one state wide)
- The celestial pole is north in the northern hemisphere and south in the southern hemisphere, so it gets hotter as you go north, and colder as you go south
- Our winter is their summer and vice versa
- If you are looking at the equator in the northern hemisphere, the sun moves left to right, in the southern hemisphere it moves right to left
- Their night sky is dominated by entirely different stars—no “Big Dipper” or “North Star”, instead they have the “Southern Cross,” a constellation of stars represented on their flag.
Tauranga sits on a large harbor, the aptly named Bay of Plenty. Container vessels and the largest cruise ships can all dock at Tauranga.
More pictures of Tauranga
Many people walk around the base of The Mount, some climb to the top.
More pictures of Mount Maunagnui (The Mount)
There is a park at Gate Pa, with a number of Maori carvings commemorating the battle.
Carving of a Maori Warrior.
Rotorua / Taupo Volcanic Zone
We watched a woman put cooking utensils into a box built over a steaming opening in the earth. The heat from the steam cooked her food.
More pictures of Rotorua
Taupo and Huka Falls
Halfway down the river is Thermal Spa Park. Super heated water pours into the river from several small water falls. Next to the falls the water is extremely hot, but as the water flows into the river it cools down--just find a spot where the temperature is perfect and lay back and relax.
The river narrows from approximately 300 feet across to 15 feet across as it flows into a rocky canyon. The is called Huka Falls.
See more pictures of Taupo and Huka Falls
Traveling through the center of the North Island
These beautiful green, rolling hills are a result of thousands of years of erosion of this volcanic material.
Huge boulders, flung far by massive volcanic explosions, tumble across the landscape.
This is the view from the city's botanical gardens looking down from one of the many the hills that encircle the harbor and the city.
This map is rotated, North is to the right. It shows the path the ferry takes as it crosses the Cook Straight. The straight is named for Captain James Cook who explored this part of the world in 1769.
This picture shows us coming into the Picton harbor at the end of the ferry crossing. At Picton we got back on the train to Kaikoura.
More pictures of the Interislander ferry
Kaikoura and Whale Watch
Much of the trip was along the rocky coastline.
We stayed overnight in a lovely little town called Kaikoura. I got up early to watch the sunrise. New Zealand is one of the first places on earth to see the dawn.
Cathedral square was particularly hard hit with many beautiful old churches destroyed. They are trying to figure out how to save the main cathedral since it means so much to the people, but seeing its crumbling devastation is a terrible sight.
More pictures of Christchurch and Kaikoura
The train leaves the coastal city of Christchurch, and in just a few minutes you're on the plains leading to the mountains.
The scenic vistas go on and on
The landscape turns warm and almost tropical as you get to the marshlands of the west coast.
Although I saw places that were more beautiful, this one stole my heart.
And I got to stand outside Bilbo Baggins front door (Ask a LOTR or Hobbit fan why this is a big deal)