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Monday, May 31, 2010

NEW ZEALAND – NORTH ISLAND


The weather is improving as the day begins with sunshine and blue skies. Today, I am in search of a rental car to explore beyond Auckland City.

 

Cheap Cars Numerous rental car agencies can be found along Beach Rd, a short walk from Queen Street. All advertise low rates but it is Labor Day Weekend with cars and bargains hard to come by.

 

I settle for a two day rental from Alternative Rental Cars at NZ$55 per day including insurance.

A few provisions for the road and I return to pick my car, a right-hand drive 5 speed Hyundai. Since they drive upside down and on the wrong side here I believe all the cars are right-hand drive.

 

007 Maybe This gives me an Austin Powers - 007 moment as I climb in the driver's seat. Yeah, baby... yeah!

 

 

 

Smoothly shifting gears I join not as “groovy looking drivers” headed for M-1 North. The City Of Sails is soon in my rear view mirror as I cross The Auckland Bridge at 90kmh. Just beyond the bridge a couple of unfortunate drivers are pulled over by “New Zealand Smokies” in plain wrappers.

A gentle reminder to not get carried away being Austin Powers.

 

Vista Not far along M-1 an exit is offered to avoid paying a toll while taking a more scenic route. A win-win situation for me.

 

 

 

Interestingly, the toll road has no toll-booths and drivers have the option to electronically pay in advance or up to 5 days after usage.

Lonely Beach Along my detour, I stop at another of New Zealand's beautiful but practically deserted beaches. I imagine it won't be long before this changes.

 

 

LP I sample "LP" New Zealand's equivalent of Coca Cola. You'll need an appreciation of ginger to understand why according to the locals “L.P is World Famous”.

 


My drive continues with a hillside climb which gives excellent views of the area. A rich mixture of greens and blues dominate the scenery.

 

Red Stripe More beaches are encountered with Langs Beach too inviting to not at least get my feet wet. The sand is warm beneath my souls but the sea explains to my feet why the beaches remain free of swimmers.

 


Taking “The Scenic Tourist Route”, I am presented with hair pin turns and switchbacks that challenge my 007 driving skills.

 

 Grazing Sheep

The landscape soon changes to endless pastures scattered with sheep or cattle then small towns appear and are gone in a few minutes.

 

 

All Saints Occasionally, I stop for photo opportunities or turn down a side road to further explore the countryside.

 

 

 

Gravel Road Sometimes, I drive for “kilometers” on gravel roads climbing hills and descending valleys.

 

 

 

The Hyundai is performing flawlessly. Thanks Q.


Rounding a curve on one of my explorations, I come almost face to face with a stray female. At about 2000 lbs she makes the right moves and I avoid having fresh ground beef for dinner.

 

WFalls 

 

DSC00828 (2) After about four hours of driving excellence and exploration I end up at Whangarei Falls.

 

 

 

 

DSC00808 (2) Part of Maori history, this waterfall can be viewed from various angles on a 30 minute hiking loop.

 

 

 

DSC00819 (2) The loop crosses the top of the falls then descends to the tidal pool and river stream below.

 

 

DSC00820 (2)

 

The river once provided a rich food source of eels, trout and other fish for the Maori people before becoming polluted.

 

DSC00826 (2) However, there still remains a peacefulness here that I take the opportunity to enjoy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kia ora!! I've read through your blog, you give a nice description and photos of Whangarei (my hometown). I hope you enjoyed your journey and have special memories in years to come!!