The Big City
Trip Start Jan 25, 2008
48Trip End Nov 16, 2008
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it was still raining when we left Wellington so as we drove along the Kapiti Coast (lower west coast by Welly) it was quite dreary and grey and hard to make out the coastal features. the bus continued inland up through Waiouru and by the renowned Tongariro National Park. the larger Mt. Ngauruhoe was first to come into sight and then another ten minuteds later, Mt. Tongariro showed himself. Tongariro NP is one of NZ's most loved national parks--the fourth oldest in the world, and has some of the nation's best skiing. speculated to have the best day hike in the country, it's marked by its unusual landforms, glacial valleys and emerald lakes among majestic volcanic peaks. indeed they are not actual mountians but volcanoes, and Mt. Ngauruhoe frequently vents steam and gas, it's last eruption occurring in 1954. it was captivating to see them in person. i took many pictures of Mt. Tongariro but picked my favorites for this post. if i ever visit NZ again, this national park will be at the top of my list.
shortly after leaving the park we began to enter the Taupo region. eventually the lake came into view and it was as blue and as stunning as the ocean. NZ's largest lake by far, it's famed for trout fishing and the town of Taupo, nickednamed the Queenstown of the north island attracting adrenaline junkies from every corner. if you want to skydive, this is the place to do it (and the cheapest!). once we left Taupo it was about another three hours to the nation's most populous city and my next destination--Auckland.
by the time the bus dropped me off at my hostel in the southend of the city, it was about 6:30pm. i quick dropped my bags off in my room, freshened up a bit and headed out to explore this city of (just) 1.3 million, known for it's large Asian population and affectionately called the "City of Sails". most of you know that i am not much of a city girl, but i do enjoy visiting them and i will say that Auckland has a unspoken charm about it. it's virtually surrounded by ocean and harbors making it a very visually pleasant city. i was lucky to be granted a magnificent sunset that evening and of course, i headed straight for the waterfront, or aquaduct which is where they hosted the 2000 and 2003 America's Cup Challenges, and took some great pictures of the colors over the water and boats.
when i joined the "MAGIC" bus once again for my journey through the Northland the following morning, i took some cool skyline pictures as we left the city. the one that shows Westhaven Marina is my favorite. there are an estimated 135,000 yachts and launches that call this harbor home, and is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. perhaps that's why it's called the city of sails!