From Rotorua we drove south to Lake Taupo. A beautiful clear blue lake filling the crater of what was once an enormous volcano. We stayed just to the south of the lake in the small town of Turangi, gateway to the Tongariro national park and home to some of the worlds best fly fishing.

We had hoped to complete the Tomgiriro crossing, a 20km day trek over Mt Ruapehu (Mt Doom if you’re a LOTR fan) and the highlight of my trip to New Zealand 7 years ago. However due to the recent weather conditions over half of crossing was closed, with only guided tours allowed into the park l, which were also being routinely cancelled. Fortunately there are a number of other great trekking routes from the nearby town of Whakapapa, with better weather conditions at the lower altitudes affording us some spectacular views of Mt Ruapehu.

Leaving Turungi we headed south towards Wellington – with an overnight stop in Otaki falls. Camping at the end of a treacherous gravel road and the bottom of an alpine valley, the site was also used as a filming location for LOTR. Anyone noticing a theme emerging…

We spent a couple of nights in the little capital, visiting the botanical gardens and the brilliant Carter observatory. The Wellington Sea & City Museum, the National Portrait Museum and the excellent Te Papa museum – with their colossal squid! The only example in the world of the deep sea creature to be caught and preserved.

We took a drive out to the rugged coastline south of the city and free camped just meters from the sea at Island bay.

On the last evening we decided a trip to the cinema was overdue so we headed off to watch Man of Steel (which I thought was utter tripe incidentally). Just as the cinema went dark and the opening scene begun the whole place start shaking violently. Our first thought was “awesome is this in 4D?” and then people started running out of there, we decided it probably wasn’t in4D…and followed. Turns out it was a 6.5 earthquake, the centre of which was about 20km out in the Cook Straight. We later heard of a bridge and a few buildings being temporarily closed as a result of the quake but thankfully nothing to serious. Not having anywhere better to be, we went back and finished the film. In hindsight we should of taken the refund that was on offer, it would have been better spent on literally anything else.

"Auckland > Rotorua > Lake Taupo > Wellington"

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

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