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New Zealand

Two weeks of road-tripping around the north island.

Story by Dustin Johnston September 9th, 2016

Land of the long white cloud

A panoramic view of Auckland Harbor from Fuller's Ferry.


Cornwall park looking back on Auckland and Rangitoto Island.
View from the stairs of the Auckland Museum.
Looking at the Auckland Sky Tower from the Auckland Museum.
Looking at Auckland from the top of One Tree Hill.
Looking up at One Tree Hill.

rangitoto island

The dock on Rangitoto Island. They drop you off and have 3 different pickup times. If you miss those, you're on your own.
Panoramic view of Auckland from Rangitoto.
Hiking around Rangitoto.
We don't have trees like this in Michigan.
Looking up and enjoying the view.
Lush vegetation on the island.
Towards the end of our hike, watching the tide go out.
The Rangitoto Lighthouse in McKenzie Bay.
The early ferry home.

fuller's ferry back to auckland

road trip!

Our rental car, a Toyota Highlander.
We stopped to check out the hundreds of birds on the beach (all of the black spots are birds.)
Always. Stopping. For. Photos.
Random dock on a random lake in the Coromandel.
Another scenic lookout we stopped at to take photos.
We were supposed to hike to Cathedral Cove. The weather did not cooperate.
Seriously, the weather was not great.
Waihi was a mining town until their mine caved in during the middle of the night.
Downtown Waihi.

Whakarewarewa forest

Enormous trees. They reminded me of the redwood forests in California.
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Lake Taupo.
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Huka Falls.
"Craters of the Moon" park near Taupo.
Trout fisherman on Lake Taupo.

the tongariro alpine crossing

Beginning of hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
Mount Ngauruhoe was used as Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
It wasn't as cold as it looks. We had proper gear and hiking keeps you surprisingly warm.
We had to do some life-saving training of what to do if you fall down the mountainside.
Carol is excited to have her crampons on her feet.
The deep snow has made this sign only ankle high.
If you look real close, you can see tiny people atop the mountain on the right. That's the path we hiked on our way to the top.
At the top of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing!
Clouds rolled in on the hike back.

hobbiton movie set

This farm is so beautiful, it would be worth a visit even if it wasn’t a former movie set. That said, the steep $90 admission is a steep price to pay for a two hour tour. That said, we absolutely loved our time on the set and would absolutely do it again. 

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a kiwi farmstay

The entire time we were in New Zealand we stayed at AirBnBs and homestays. This was just the type of place Carol was hoping to visit: one that lets you pet a variety of farm animals.

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Waitangi treaty grounds

We were so happy that we traveled up to the Bay of Islands and visited this historic grounds where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. The new museum is state of the art and the guided tour gave us a great oral history of the complex relationship between the Maori and the British. 

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back on the road

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Historic Russell was New Zealand’s first capitol but today it’s a touristy beach town.

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Footnote: Photos by Dustin Johnston // Twitter, Instagram: @DJPhotoVideo //
New Zealand