We have just returned from a lovely holiday up north in Bay of Islands. We saw all sorts of things, and I have such a lot to say that I’ll spread out what we did over a number of posts over the next few days.
Actually, we got home yesterday, Monday, after a long drive down from Auckland. As we were traveling there was a big earthquake north of Wellington (6.2) that was felt through the whole of New Zealand, from Invercargill to Auckland. We didn’t feel it as we were in the car, and first heard of it on the radio. Of course we can expect lots of after-shocks, so bracing ourselves ‘just in case’. No-one has been hurt, but the giant eagle with Gandalf on its back at Wellington airport fell down!
Anyway, back to the trip. We set off last Tuesday, driving first up to Hamilton, where we spent the night. The drive first took us through the lush, green countryside we are used to: idyllic scenes of sheep under trees or cows grazing. Carrying on up State Highway 1, we eventually reached the Desert Road, which goes around the east side of Tongariro National Park, the first to be established in New Zealand. The landscape is quite barren, with no trees, just small bushes, and a volcanic plain that reminded me of Iceland in parts. There are three active volcanoes in the park – Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu. Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe are two of the most active volcanoes in the world, although it was Tongariro that erupted in 2012.
Windy stop to view Mt Ruapehu
There are loads of places in the area that were used in ‘Lord of the Rings’, and I am sure that somewhere there is a list of them!
From there, we continued on passed Lake Taupo, which we visited briefly a few months ago, and which you can see from the air when flying from Auckland to Wellington. We arrived in Hamilton in time for dinner and to sleep, not stopping to see the gardens on this trip. Day 2, our drive further north, will be in the next blog.