North Island, New Zealand

 

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The North Island of New Zealand (Te Ika-a-Māui) is quite distinct from the South Island. It is smaller in area, but has a much larger population (one third of NZ's population is in Auckland alone).  The North Island boasts greater infrastructure, wider roads and modern architecture, but still retains many features that remind visitors of its Maori origins and colonial history. The island is  also unique geologically with active volcanoes, frequent earthquakes and areas of geothermal activity. With no part of the island more than 125 kilometers from a coast, there are also numerous beaches and coastal villages.
 

From Picton, the Interislander Ferry travels through the Queen Charlotte Sound and across the Cook Strait to Wellington.

The view approaching Wellington on the ferry shows why Wellington has been called the "Hong Kong of New Zealand." There's a curved harbour surrounded by hillsides dotted with houses and high-rises.
 

We were in Wellington during the long week-end prior to students returning to school. The X-Air event featured  basketball, skateboarding, and BMX biking competitions, rock bands and festival kiosks.
 

This was the view from our charming B & B. On the hillside, a funicular cable car carries commuters between Kelburn and the city center, visitors to the Botanical Garden, and students attending Victoria University.

            

New Zealand's Parliament Buildings include the Parliamentary Hall, Parliamentary Library and the distinctive Beehive building. We took a fascinating tour which showed us how the buildings had been retrofitted to withstand earthquakes.
 

               

From the peak of Mount Victoria, to Oriental Parade along the Waterfront and the shopping avenue of Lambton Quay, the city of Wellington is diverse and vibrant.  Double decker buses and red telephone booths are reminders of British heritage.

Tongariro National Park is New Zealand's oldest national park and a World Heritage site. The core of the park is formed by the sacred peaks of Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu.
 

An attraction unique to Rotorua is "zorbing," rolling down a hill inside a bubble in a large water-filled ball.

Now a museum, the former bathhouse in Rotorua was an elaborate "playground" for the wealthy. The lawns are still used for daily games of croquet and lawn bowling.

The region around Rotorua is an active geothermal area consisting of mudpots, geysers and hot springs.In 1992, the central park of Rotorua "exploded" leaving steam holes and geysers open to the public.
 

Carving is the ultimate indigenous art form. Carvings pay deep respect to ancestors, history, myth and legend. At the Māori Arts and Crafts institute at Te Whakarewarewa in Rotorua there has been a resurgence of training by master carvers. 

The Māoris arrived in New Zealand from Polynesia approximately 1200 years ago. The traditional wharenui (Meeting House) of the Māori iwi (tribes) is the focus of the community. The interior is decorated with carved tikis and woven flax mats that depict the traditional stories.
 

Tairua hosts an annual Deep Sea Fishing competition. This year's winner fought for 2 1/2 hours to bring in this  77 kg marlin.

At the Tamaki Māori village, visitors view the powhiri (greeting ceremony), the haka (posture dance) and ti rakau (stick game), poi dance, and traditional singing.
 

Waitūkei sculpture by Rotorua artist, Lyonel Grant, represents the rich melding of Māori and European culture.

 

Much of New Zealand is a landscape of rolling hills. This is the location of the shires of Hobbiton in The Lord of the Rings films. The movie set has since been rebuilt as a tourist attraction.
 

We explored the Coromandel Peninsula from our home base in the fishing village of Tirua.

An hour's hike across coastal headland is Cathedral Cove, a beautiful beach surrounded by granite caves and pillars. This archway/cave is flooded during high tide.
 

Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel is an area where hot springs lie under the sand. During low tide it is possible to dig a hole which fills with hot water and creates a unique spa.
 

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This site was last updated 01/13/21