OK, so we’re back, and here’s some photos from the trip with a bit of commentary. Click the small shots to enlarge.
Auckland. You know that old line about Melbourne – it will be a nice place when it’s finished? The equivalent Kiwi gag is ‘Auckland is a nice place – it’s a shame they built Auckland there’. There’s some truth in this. It’s in a great spot and the harbour is attractive but the city itself is a mess of different architectural styles, and the traffic situation is totally woeful. Generally the country needs about nine hundred bypass roads to funtion adequately, and as far as I could gather, the government is undertaking to build none of them. They are just making the roads they do have smoother and more shiny.
We hung around in the CBD, checked out the colonial parks and boulevards, and went to the Museum in the Domain. (You can rely on the Victorians to have done a decent job in laying out public space. They just didn’t cater for how many people were going to need to use it.) Our apartment building was pretty cool so we also spent a lot of time chilling out there, watching kids TV and giggling at the presenters’ accents.
Hey, we also saw our friends Bruce and Jessica in Devonport, but I’ll put those photos on the front page.
Anyway on Easter Sunday we headed north with Geoff Denham, Louise’s uncle. About half of Auckland was on the road with us. Lucky it was a double-lane road in some places, otherwise we might have gotten really stuck!
As it was, we spent a few hours in a place called Sandspit. As you can see, when the tide goes out in NZ it really goes out. It’s not just the Sandspit area, either – the last photo is of Louise and Erin near Devonport. I think the whole country is like this. I found myself wondering how much shellfish was available when the Maori first arrived. No wonder they decided to stay…
The next day, we headed south to National Park, via the Waitomo glow-worm caves. The main highlight of the trip between Auckland and Waitomo through the Waikato valley was finishing it. What a ghastly place. This is not the New Zealand you want to see. If there is a next time, we’ll fly south from Auckland, rather than driving through this again.
The caves themselves were awesome, but you can’t take photos in there, because it disturbs the worms’ bioluminesence thing, and also because no-one would go and see them if there were photos all over the place. They let you take photos on the outside though. So here’s a cave mouth!:
Next stop, NATIONAL PARK. We did what everyone does: take the chairlift up Mt. Ruapehu and stare out at the other big mountain whose name eludes me, but it was the one they used for Mt. Doom in the STAR WARS series, which was apparently filmed on locaton here. We tried to see snow but it was too misty.
Speaking of mist: is this the fabled Far Liath of fable, or the fabled Grey Man, of Irish fable? Or is it just Steve, saying ‘Blimey, it’s a bit cold and no joke, govnah.’ It’s cold up there, and we are thin-blooded tropical types now…
So anyway, the next day when it had fined up a bit we drove round taking interminable photos of the mountains, and we finally saw some snow. Cody was still a bit disappointed because it was out of our reach, and so he was unable to throw it at me. This possibility had been hyped up a lot.
Also, Louise particularly wanted to get a shot of our snazzy hire car that looked as much like a car advertisement as possible.
I think she succeeded in capturing both moments very well.
And now just a few more shots of those amazing mountains before I publish this, have a bite to eat, and then put page 2 up.