If I was to describe New Zealand in only one word, it would be “Green”. That is it, New Zealand is green. On my way into New Zealand from the plane all I could make out of this volcanic land was green hills, green mountains, green plains and occasionally few brown patches and lakes.
When I got off the plane in Wellington and looked out at the surroundings, my first impression of New Zealand was that it was very similar to Cornwall in England.
Having lived there for about two years on and off, that was the first thing that came to my mind when I was first introduced to New Zealand. Green hills and cliffs dropping down to the sea, blue sky scattered with white fluffy clouds and windy.
At this stage I did not get to see much of Wellington besides its airport, since I was only stopping over for few hours before flying to Auckland. When I landed in Auckland I had a different impression. The airport was much bigger and when I stepped outside the airport I could tell I was in a bigger city.
Dom came to meet me at the airport in the car. The drive from the airport to Central Auckland was about thirty minutes. Looking out of the car window, the surroundings still reminded me of Cornwall. But it did not take me long to change my views.
After my arrival we spent a few days in Auckland and then we departed on a road trip to Wellington where we were going to meet Dom’s family. I was very happy to leave the city since I still had to adjust to the changes from Indonesia to New Zealand.
We drove all the way in two days with a stop over in Taupo. We took the New Zealand State Highway 1 (SH1) and as soon as we left the city I was impressed at how the vegetation became lusher and greener the further south we were getting.
Beautiful scenery, native bushes, ferns and trees everywhere…everywhere I looked it was green! Different shades and hues of green! Hills and mountains covered with pine forests, vineyards, fruit trees, more bushes…it was a beautiful sight.
Taupo is only few hours driving from Auckland. It is a town located in the center of the north island on the shore of Lake Taupo, New Zealand larger lake.
Taupo is a center of volcanic and geothermal activity and hot springs suitable for bathing are located around the area. We arrived in Taupo early afternoon, checked in to a motel and went straight for the hot springs on the Waikato River.
How beautiful! Several pools of steamy hot water running straight in to the much cooler river. It was fantastic, it was like sitting in a hot bath. I think we must have spent about a couple of hours there. Unfortunately I did not have the camera with me, so there is no photos of this fantastic spot. This was my first real taste of New Zealand.
The following day we carried on our journey to Wellington. Few kilometers out of Taupo the SH 1 ascended onto the North Island Volcanic Plateau, passing through the fringes of the Tongariro National Park (the first National Park in New Zealand and the fourth in the world) and into the Rangipo Desert, passing the volcanoes of Ruapehu, Ngauruhore and Tongariro.
The scenery was breathtaking. I have not been to this National Park yet but I would love to experience the Tongariro Alpine Crossing track across the spectacular and unique volcanic terrain. The road between Rangipo and Waiouru is commonly known as the Desert Road.
It is quite impressive how the landscape changes dramatically from lush green to desert for few kilometers and then back to green.
We arrived in Wellington in the late afternoon and enjoyed a few cold beers before a dinner of mutton curry from the local night market. It was in Wellington that I was introduced for the first time to the delicacies of New Zealand food and wine. The produces are so fresh, meat is delicious and wine is just fantastic.
The following day we had an amazing family dinner with a selection of local cheeses and crackers to start followed by slow roast lamb and roast veggies accompanied by floods of Sauvignon Blanc which is my favourite withe wine. For a food lover like me, that was pure heaven.
After months of Indonesian food I thoroughly enjoyed that beautiful dinner! At this point I was starting to see the climate of New Zealand like a fusion of Italy and England.
Amazing wine, ripe juicy tomatoes, delicious tender meat, mouthwatering cheeses, tons of any kind of fresh vegetables, fruit trees and berries and hot summer sun (just like Italy) and green land, cool wind and cold nights (like England).
I was liking New Zealand a lot and I was starting to understand more of Dom’s upbringing and background.
It is quite amazing to think that approximately seventy per cent of the population in New Zealand is ethnically of European origins followed by approximately fifteen per cent Maori.
The Kiwis are in a way so different from the Europeans. They are wilder and more laid back. No surprise since at the end of the day they live on an island almost isolated from the rest of the world.
But this is what makes them so cool. I love it, all of it. New Zealand, its nature, its people, its food and wine and everything else that makes it the amazing place it is.