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New Zealand – North Island

It’s been some time since my last post, so about time to write something up. It’s not as if nothing has happened in between. Currently, I’m sitting on the ferry from Wellington to Picton, going from the north to the south island of New Zealand. We arrived about a week ago in Auckland via Kuala Lumpur. We had enough time in Kuala Lumpur to take the train into town and have some good indian food. In Auckland, spend a day recovering from the flights, mostly driving around to a few of the vulcano hills providing some great views of the city. Lunch at the beach quickly made us forget about the grim northern european weather we left behind.

After Auckland, we drove down to Taupo, roughly in the middle of the northern island. Taupo lies on the shores of Lake Taupo, a popular tourist spot, but the main summer season is only just starting up and it was still pretty quiet around town. Just south of Taupo is the starting point for one of New Zealands Great Walks, the Tongariro Crossing. The guide books are not quite in agreement on the lenght of the track, mentioning 16, 17, or 18 km, although we did pass the 19km sign before reaching the car park. The crossing includes two stiff climbs up the vulcanoes, the first called Devil’s Staircase for a reason. Climbing up, we did get some great views of the landscape we passed, but once we reached the top a fogg rolled in and what it removed in stunning views, we did get back double in mysterious silence though the barren land where Mordor was filmed for a reason. Uninviting is to say the least. Quite the contrast to the last few km of the track, which ended in a stretch of rainforest.
The next day, it was raining and the couch looked very attractive after exercise of the day before. We did pop out for a quick walk through Craters Of The Moon, a geothermal area with steam streaming through the rock in large and small holes and mudpools. Also very impressive was the nearby geothermal power plant, generating electricity by pumping up steam from the underground. The first in the world and already over 50 years old, which makes you wonder why there aren’t more of them around.

Yesterday was another day of driving, down to Wellington, the capital on the southern shores. We didn’t manage much more than a walk around the harbour and a visit to Mac’s Brewery, who treated us to a tasting of 6 of their 7 beers. All very stylish beers, especially the toasty Sassy Red and refreshingly hoppy Black Mac. Today, it’s saying farewell to the nothern island and on to Nelson on the southern island, and tomorrow a visit to 5 wineries.

Sorry, no pictures yet, there has been a lack of broadband Internet for us so far to upload them. I can tell you one thing though: the grass really is greener here.

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