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Part 1

The North Island


We were supposed to start on the 23rd, and my birthday (the 24th) would have been in the air. Eric set up a little birthday cake, complete with glowstick "candles", because he figured he wouldn't be allowed to bring matches on board. How thoughtful! Since we had to delay the trip because I got sick, I had my birthday cake at home. Just before we left, some wacko tried to set off a bomb carried in his shoe. So at the airport, they checked our shoes very carefully, because we fit their profile - one way ticket, bought the ticket within three days, and it was an international flight. The inspector was super friendly, though.


Poor guy--had to handle Eric's sneakers! Luckily he had gloves on! In New Zealand! Holy cow - Eric's driving on the wrong side of the road! The first couple hours were stressful, but he got used to it soon and did a great job driving.


New Zealand is such an incredibly scenic country. This is from just south of Auckland. Apparently they filmed the Hobbit town part of the Lord of the Rings here. Everyone speaks English, of course, and many things are the same as here. But shopping carts are "trundlers".


This visitor center was in the form of a sheep. We camped for the night at a "motor camp" next to Lake Taupo. There was a huge volcanic explosion in the late 1800's, and from that lots of pumice laying around. This is a pumice rock floating in the lake - the only rock that floats!


A nice healthy breakfast of oatmeal, apricots and kiwis (cheap!), and yogurt. We saw this plant everywhere along the side of the road - it's New Zealand Flax. To our eyes it was very beautiful and exotic looking, but it appears to grow everywhere there.


Pampas grass was the same - we saw it everywhere. This is the Whakapapanui Stream, in Tongariro National Park. Very beautiful little stream, running through what looked like a volcanic basin.


Plants in Tongariro National Park - this is the native mistletoe, which is a favorite of the introduced possums. They put metal sleeves around the trees it grows on, so the possums can't climb up.


This is a fern - it starts out all curled up, then the leaves expand.


The landscape from a little hill at Tongariro. Unfortunately it was clouding up. There's an area at Tongariro that has these weird mounds. Scientists didn't know what caused them, but now they think that they're part of a debris avalanche from a volcano. This is based on the fact that there are similar formations in Mt. St. Helens in Washington State.


We took the desert road south, on the east side of Tongariro National Park. The mountains never cleared up, unfortunately. I drove too! Driving on the left sure is disconcerting.


We stopped for tea at this DC 3 airplane, turned into a cafe. It's advertising a cookie company. Really neat clouds on the way south.


In the town of Paekakariki, just north of Wellington.


An interesting puffy grass along the beach.


In the evening, we got to Wellington. Some sculptures close to the waterfront.
EricAndSylvia  |  Pictures  |  New Zealand  |  Part 1   <<< 1 2  All >>> © 2013 Eric Vasilik