We arrived in Auckland on a drizzly Sunday morning. Given we had departed from Santiago on Friday, this was momentarily confusing, until we were reminded about the international date line. Less confused but still a little miffed we lost a Saturday (would have to be a weekend wouldn’t it?!) we got checked into the Auckland YHA and set off on foot to explore the city.

Auckland is a pleasant coastal city, built on what was left behind by millennia of volcanic activity. Beneath the urban sprawl and modern centre, there are still visible remains of the areas geological history. We caught a ferry from the city’s main terminal to the island of Rangitoto. An uninhibited volcano perched in smack bang in the middle of the harbour. A 2 hour walk through fields of black volcanic rock gets you to the summit of the crater. With great views across the harbour to the mainland and neighbouring islands, it’s well worth the trip.

Other sites we visited included the very good Auckland Art Gallery, the Domain and the Auckland Museum – which has some great exhibits on Maori culture and really good pies!

A friend of ours Brendan and his wife Celina put us up for a couple of nights. Kindly cooking us local cuisines and taking us out for drinks in the upmarket St Helliers area, we shared a ‘few’ bottles of NZ wine as we planned our road trip with their help.

The following morning we picked up our campervan – what would be our home for the next couple of weeks or so. Essentially a long wheel base transit with the back converted to incorporate a shower, toilet, kitchen area and double bed / lounge area. A little bigger than we had originally planned, we opted for a fully self contained version so we could free camp anywhere as apposed to just campsites.

Leaving Auckland we headed to sulphur rich Rotorua, the geothermal centre of NZ. With so many options re thermal pools and geysers and little to split them, we opted for Waimangu Volcanic Valley. A 2 hour walk through the valley we passed several really impressive thermal and volcanic features, including Inferno Crater Lake and Frying Pan Lake, the largest hot spring in the world. Hot.

"Auckland > Rotorua > Lake Taupo > Wellington"

From New Zealand (North Island), posted by Stefan Brierley on 8/04/2013 (19 items)

Generated by Facebook Photo Fetcher 2