New Zealand - 1977-1979


Geoff was lecturing at the University of Auckland, and I was working as a systems programmer in the Health Department, so most of our time was spent on the North Island. However, my work took me to Christchurch on occasion, so these notes include a trip I took with my sister around the South Island.

Auckland is situated on a very narrow piece of land, between Manukau Harbour in the West and Waitemata Harbour to the East - at the narrowest point there is only about one mile from side to side. This tends to split trips into quite sharp divisions - north of the city or south of the city.

What follows are brief notes on the places that stand out in my memories of what was a very enjoyable time living in New Zealand.

Around Auckland

Waitakere Ranges

Rangitoto

North of Auckland

Bay of Islands

Little Barrier Island

South or East of Auckland

Coromandel Peninsula

Rotorua

Waitomo

Tongariro

Taranaki

South Island

My sister Carmel's visit to New Zealand coincided with a work trip I had to make to Christchurch, so the two of us left Geoff at home and went for a drive around part of the South Island for a couple of weeks. We hired a car, and set out from Christchurch, via Arthur's Pass, to the West Coast. It was mid-winter, but the weather was miraculously clear, with thick snow on the mountains, sparkling blue lakes, and a maximum temperature hovering around 0C. Ice coated the fencing wires, and the frosts didn't melt despite the bright sunshine - it was incredibly beautiful, clear and crisp.

There were lots of hightlights, but some of the best were: taking a ski plane up to and landing on the Franz Joseph Glacier (just the two of us and the pilot); flying around the summit of Mount Cook; driving through Haast Pass, with icicles dripping from the cliffs along the steep mountain road; Queenstown; the flight through the mountains to Milford Sound and the Sound itself; jetboating on the Shotover, amid rapids through ice-covered rocks; more jetboating - it was just great!

Summary

New Zealand is a lovely place, with so much compressed into quite small islands. The rural scenery is peaceful, the mountains are very approachable, with good walking tracks and huts, the forests (what is left of them) are quite mystical and awe-inspiring, the glaciers and fiords are magnificent. Really - you have to go there!!!
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