Thanks for tuning back in, guys! Read on to see our final excursions in New Zealand 🙂 Didn’t get to read Part Two? You can find that blog post (and lots of pictures, of course) here!
Day Four: Tongariro National Park
Ok, let me start by saying that yes, I was sore. Yes, I was exhausted. I slept like a champ afterwards. But this hike/climb in the Tongariro National Park is so so worth it! It was so cool to see the landscape change as we hiked further upwards and deeper into the park. I couldn’t have even prepared myself for the beauty of the Emerald Lake.It seriously doesn’t even look real. The “Alpine Crossing,” as it was called (led by Adrift), is just a little over 12 miles long traveling up the Devil’s Staircase, around Mt. Ruapheu (Mt. Doom for you LOTR fans), then down down down past the Emerald Lake and on through the rest of the trails. Needless to say, we earned ourselves more ice cream that evening 😉
Mt. Doom!!! Also known as Mt. Ruapheu
The Emerald Lakes
The Blue Lake
Day Five: Driving to Wellington
The drive to Wellington was pretty peaceful although a bit rainy. But let me tell you about the differences between traveling in New Zealand versus the States.
1. There aren’t interstates: Now, of course, they wouldn’t be called “interstates,” but there are no mutli-lane roads where you go 70+miles per hour. Throughout practically the whole country, we drove on two lane highways that went a max of 100 kilometers per hour (about 62 mph).
2. There aren’t really billboards like what we think of. One the sides of the road there are large signs, not much bigger than a poster board. They’re filled with very simple messages, mostly about road safety. The ads were few and far between.
3. There aren’t exits or “exit-type” signs: You don’t really have exit signs like what we think of that tell you what restaurants are coming up soon, approaching gas stations, etc. You have no idea what is up ahead until you practically pass it. New Zealand is very conscious about preserving the natural beauty of their land, so I take it the fewer signs the better in their eyes.
Day Six: Lord of the Rings Rover Tour
There is something really neat about seeing where scenes from the movies were filmed. It really speaks to the imagination of everyone involved in the making of movies that were able to create spectacular footage out of everyday, ordinary locations. Aside from being able to see multiple filming locations, you are really taken on a wonderful tour of the city by Rover Rings Tours. I doubt we would have discovered some of the amazing scenic views and beautiful parks if we had been on our own.
The view from Mt. Victoria
The Gardens of Isengard
The River Anduin
View from Scorch-O-Rama restaurant near the beach in Wellington
My Overall Impression of New Zealand
When I say that everyone in New Zealand was super friendly, I’m not over-exaggerating. Everyone from the lady that ran the pizza shop in Auckland (Toto Pizza and the 1 meter-long pizza) recommending the town’s favorites pizzas to the gas station attendant in Tongariro National Park trying to help me pick out the best aloe for my sunburn and to the tour guide from Rover, David, that baked homemade muffins… everyone was AMAZING. You will undoubtedly hear from most Kiwis how lucky they feel to live in New Zealand. And this feeling of being lucky obviously trickles down to how they choose to treat others. I’m so grateful that I was able to experience such an amazing culture and beautiful country. Now I just need to figure out how to move there…
Christy Hunter is a wedding and portrait photographer based in Tucson, Arizona.
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