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North Island

Now that we're away from the land, the wind has picked up and is buffeting these camper vans around. A rainbow in the spray of the bow wave. Lighthouses on the North Island. A plane coming into Wellington Airport. Rocks. Another rainbow. Hilly suburbs of Wellington. Wellington. Wellington, with some logs piled up ready for export. The Aratere was the largest of the ferries operating between the islands but one of the propellors f... On the ferry. Something went wrong here. That lorry cab just drove forward. I'm not sure whether the trailer was m... Apparently, you have to report any bees that you see near here. Wellington. The green building in the middle is the former Waterloo Hotel, now a backpackers' hostel... The New Zealand parliament building, known as the Beehive. Wellington's main station. The station. Some of the ferries dock just next to the station, whereas the one which I took uses a different por... I'm glad that my bike made it to Wellington safely. In fact, it's in a better state than it has been... Wellington. See, it is the parliament. The wind is causing waves in this building's moat. From the outside, my hotel looks worryingly much like it's boarded up and shut. Apparently, there wa... Inside. My room is cosy but the view from the window isn't great. Each room has a different name. I wonder if they tried to find me the one which best matches my own ... The lift is quite old-fashioned. It's Steve from work. And Sarah. Wellington. Wellington. Steve and Sarah. Wellington. Wellington being quite vertical. These two again. Steve trying to find a bar which is still open after 8 pm. It's harder than you might imagine. Wellington. We managed to get a drink in this place just before it closed. There's a good choice of beer. Shame they've stopped serving. The window in my room doesn't open so I'll have to use the air conditioning. This key might turn it ... A funny little building. Sorry, something has gone a bit weird with the process which creates my pages. We'll have to have a ... I thought that looking for somewhere to have breakfast might be a way of seeing a bit of the city on... Public buildings, including the City Gallery, the Library and the Town Hall. A boathouse with a boat outside and a few rowers milling about. Wooden things. Outside the art gallery. The Town Hall. Wellington. I know what's down there. I'm now standing precisely on the opposite side of the world from where I ... My poor bike getting wet. Putting the bike and my bags into the car wasn't as easy as it might have been. It's pouring with ra... The building which I saw yesterday with the moat is the Supreme Court. The parliament, again. A detail in Wellington. There's plenty of room in the car. Workmen. I'm afraid there won't be as many views today as on previous days because it's not as easy to stop a... Mana Island. I think I'm far enough from a port that I won't have to report this bee. There were signs for a tram museum so I went to have a look. It's only open at weekends though. It seems that every little town's shopping mall has a food court like this. A level crossing. On the left is the cycle path. It looked like bikes heading North from Wellington ... As the tram museum was shut, I've found a car museum instead. The first thing inside the door is the... Morgans, made in the town where I live. A Cadillac with a matching trailer. I think it needs more mirrors. The controls of a DeLorean. This is a strange-looking car, as is the one in the distance whose body is made entirely from copper... An Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire. I believe my dad learned to drive in one of these but I don't think ... Wheels from Donald Campbell's Bluebird are like splinters from the cross: there are far more of them... I don't think I've ever actually seen a Ford Prefect before either. What's this? These aren't cars? Electric cars from 1974 and 1918. Bikes, including a Sinclair C5. Quite a lot of cars. There are more downstairs. This is the oldest car in New Zealand. I got a quick chance to take some pictures of the scenery while waiting at roadworks. This is the vi... ... and to the right. The central square in Palmerston North. There are lots of bike racks in Palmerston North but the ones like this are unusually small. Palmerston North. Palmerston North. Palmerston North. The town square is a big park, with ducks. This is called ... An unusual offer. Palmerston North. You can park a bicycle for free almost anywhere. Palmerston North. Palmerston North. Just along the road from here, I was accosted by two missionaries who were trying to spread the Chri... That's a well-connected building. The air conditioning plant just under the big dishes is making so ... I definitely don't need to come to this shop. My tracksuit trousers have had one leg ripped off by t... My car. It was like that when I got it. The place where I've come for breakfast today has a garage theme, with lots of toy cars. It also has garage doors on the wall. I doubt whether either of these is a Dominator, or a Conqueror... Cows. A scenic lookout point. Scenery. Part of my car hire document. The dots and other little marks show where it already had damage but t... Lumpy scenery. According to an information board, this used to be the town of Pemberton, "the commercial and s... I would guess that the chimney is all that remains of Pemberton. A map here shows who owned each plot of land in the town. The tree next to my car is in the plot whi... I thought I might be able to count the rings in this one to put a lower bound on its age but most of... Hills. Hills. The road about to go down another hill. Scenery. Scenery. The line along the hillside on the left is the road. You can see where part of the hill has been cut... Looking down into a valley. A goat... ... and two sheep. A bridge over the Rangitikei River. Looking downstream... ...and upstream. You have to drive very slowly over this bridge. I could still feel it wobbling as these two trundles... A few years ago, a friend spent a year in New Zealand and reported back that the national dish was t... It's strage being out in that wild remote countryside and then seeing adverts saying that there are ... This train was making slow progress up the hill. Lots of pylons. The Crown Range Road which I used near Queenstown is the highest paved road in New Zealand but, desp... The flat high ground, referred to as a desert. This area is an Army training ground. This is probably one of their facilities. Mount Ruapehu, the highest mountain on the North Island, disappearing into the clouds. You can see a few fingers of ice. A different mountain. The high ground. A deforested area. Lake Taupo. I tried to make a recording of its sound, this time using my laptop, but it has come out... Lake Taupo has the largest surface area of any lake in New Zealand. Lake Taupo. Canoeists. Lake Taupo. The same canoeists. Tandem parachutists. At the top of the picture, you can see the plane which dropped them. I could hear the sounds of delight that these ones were making. Lake Taupo. Lake Taupo. Pretty, isn't it? My room for tonight has its own little patio... ...and a spa bath. I have wanted one ever since missing out on one in Dunedin. The instructions state: "To avoid being swamped by bubbles, add the lavender gel gradually"... I was hoping to edit my photos out here but it's too bright. The lake. People by the lake. People in the lake. More of the same. Taupo. Vans. Somebody preparing dinner by Lake Taupo. Where I'm standing now looks a bit like a driving range so I think the challenge is to hit a golf ba... Lake Taupo. Taupo. Taupo. The information boards all around Taupo have the form of giant paperclips. The first piece of text o... The park. The town seems very proud of this toilet. It's marked on all the maps. Sadly, it closes at 6 pm so I... It's hard to see but I think there might be three of them in there. That's a big tree for such a small roundabout. I've finally got around to trying to submit the expenses claims for the business part of my trip, wh... The Aratiatia dam diverts the Waikato River through a tunnel to a hydroelectric power station. A few... The floodgates. Surging water. The Waikato River. The signs say that the floodgatea are open for 15 minutes from 10:00. I was here ... Some of the water is forcing its way through a tunnel through that rock. The walkway to the lookout point is a little adventure in itself. These other two cars are from the same hire company as mine. On the lake above the dam was a boat offering cruises to the Huka Falls, a little way upstream. This... An industrial facility making use of the natural hot springs. If you don't fancy the boat, you could see the Huka Falls by helicopter. The Huka Falls. The rock here has been hardened by geothermal activity. The river has then carved this channel throu... Fast-flowing water. The Huka Falls. Other tourists. Scenery along today's route. My road. The road has just come down this deep valley. That landslip looks recent. Trees around the edge. The view from a viewpoint. The road and river in the bottom of the valley. One of many sets of roadworks along today's road. Landscape. This man was sitting there admiring the view and listening to country music blaring out of the car. ... Forestry work. I've just realised I'll have to drive over all those tree roots to get out. Scenery. A lorry full of sheep struggling up the hill. A vineyard. I've been told that here on the North Island, the tall hedges often have kiwi fruit growing behind t... A small plane coming into Napier. Lakes near Napier. Lakes near Napier. Napier was destroyed by an earthquake and ensuing fires in 1931, and had to be entirely rebuilt. Ver... The hotel where I'm staying tonight had almost entirely bad reviews but one of them was quirky enoug... Napier. A Deco snack bar and a mini road layout, with junctions, traffic lights and a roundabout, where smal... You can probably ignore the "Give Way" sign when you're the only person in the place. Napier. A man on the phone on a skateboard. Outside the National Aquarium. A fish in the aquarium. There were so many different types of fish in this tank that I couldn't tell... You can either walk through this tunnel through the big tank or get carried through slowly by the bl... A giant squid. A blue penguin. This tank has several blue penguins who were all injured in various ways and couldn'... There are two people here who appear to be from a TV news programme. Penguins. Penguins being fed. The news man looking at crabs. A giant prawn, which seemed to be eating something. The Piranhas were completely motionless and all lined up facing in the same direction. This is a rather poor picture because of the low light but you might be able to see the kiwi. It's i... The news people again. A ship in the distance. Napier. Another skateboarder. Wooden houses on the seafront. Gardens. Napier's seafront. Cape Kidnappers, which marks the end of Hawke's Bay. The Sound Shell. Napier. The Masonic Hotel. The statue on the right was shattered by the earthquake but reassembled. Napier. Deco street signs. The streets are also labelled with tiles like this. Napier. And again. Sorry. Napier. The Subway here has a special deco sign. Napier. Napier. Napier. The theatre. I wouldn't have thought a park would have any opportunity to be deco but this one is. Napier. This is what the back alleys look like. Napier. Napier. Napier. I decided to have dinner in a place which advertised itself as a deco restaurant. It's up here... ... then in here. The food was good, especially for the price. It's a shame there's nobody else in here though. Napier. A chorus performing in the street. They might have been easier to hear if they had chosen to stand i... A bank. Napier. The insides of these buildings have been ripped out but it looks like the frontages are staying. I always find it funny when a city has such straight roads that you can look along one and see strai... The street number on a bank. Napier in the evening. It goes dark noticeably earlier here than on the South Island. It might take a while to get today's pictures online. Sunrise in Napier. Napier Airport. Air New Zeland has a comprehensive service linking most towns of any significant size a few times ea... Near the airport, there are two of these wooden towers. They look like navigation aids but I don't k... Napier. Hawke's Bay. A ship. I thought the steam might have been from another geothermal place but it's actually waste steam from... A heat haze on the beach. I'm glad I'm not on the bike this week. The North Island is unrelentingly hilly. This is one of many... I leapfrogged this lorry a few times. Whenever I stopped to take photographs, it got back in fromt o... Lake Tutira, which is a nature reserve. Somebody from the company which manages it has just come out... A railway bridge over the Matahorua River. In places, the roads are so wide that when I resume driving after stopping for a while, it's not alw... Looking down from the road bridge. That's strange. I'm sure there was a hubcap on here earlier. It was cable tied on. I wonder where it... A river in the bottom of another deep valley. Another bridge. The village of Raupunga looks a bit run-down. Raupunga. For such a small village, it has an impressive rest area. Oh. Scenery. Scenery. Towards the end of today, I would encounter a lot of this type of flower but wouldn't get a chance t... A touring cyclist in Wairoa. I don't know why there's a British-style postbox here but the lighthouse is one which was on the coa... A shady spot in Wairoa. People playing in the river. She looks a bit over-dressed. This plant has flowers which look like toilet brushes. Wairoa. Wairoa. This isn't labelled but I saw one in the museum in Dunedin so I know it's a pot for melting whale fa... Wairoa. An unusally flat bit of land. I passed through several regions today where the hillsides had been planted with baby trees. A green lagoon, in contrast to the sea which is bright blue today. A piece of flat land.... More of the same. The high hedges are back. This one is even flanked by a row of what look like some kind of palm tree... I can't tell whether those are kiwi fruit trees in there. There are other types of fruit, such as or... These steps aren't terribly effective towards the top end. A view from the flood defences of the Waipaoa River. Two cyclists and a vineyard with sheep in it. My motel tonight has a better sea view than the one last night. In fact, it's better in most respect... The owner is a bit disappointed though that when the upstairs is put on that house across the road, ... Towels on the bed... sleepy towels! You know how they say you should never open a door if it feels warm? The front door of my room is wa... A straggly tree. On close inspection, the red tree which was providing the shade in Wairoa looks to be closely relate... There is a red circle of dropped filaments under each tree. Surfers on the beach in Gisborne. Surfers. Here are some of those Agapanthus flowers. A surfer. A surfing lesson. A dog. Gisborne. This man put a stepladder next to one of those red trees and then climbed up it with the box. I assu... A boat coming into the harbour. "Look, a boat!"... Big boat, little boat. Young Nick. A statue of Captain James Cook, at the place where became the first European to set foot on New Zeal... According to the signs, this bit of railway is still sometimes used. This bit isn't. It has become a pedestrian bridge over the river. A polynesian-style canoe. Some other groups of people were paddling similar things but with only one... Paddlers. Going under the bridge. Another view of the old railway bridge. The big ship in the previous pictures was being loaded with logs from a stockpile on the quayside. H... The Turanganui River, which is apparently the shortest in New Zealand, just 1200 metres long. This little pagoda is of interest to me... ... because it's my most Easterly point on this trip, and probably the furthest East I will ever go,... I don't think MPs in Britain have offices in the high street like this but I've seen several of them... The rate would look more fixed if the numbers weren't removable like that. This little machine was just shuffling backwards and forwards, apparently doing something to the roa... Gisborne. Gisborne. In a park. Back at the beach. The beach. The surfers have now been joined by a stand-up paddler. On the beach. Although I put my hand in the sea in a couple of places, I hadn't actually waded out into it until n... Tinsel and a palm tree. A boat. Along today's route. Along today's route. The road here is in the process of being repaired following a landslip. Trees. The big stone by this rest area is a monument to the people who made the road through this valley, i... More trees. The river suddenly gets much deeper and its colour changes from the brown of the stones below to a d... A little cave at the edge of the river. I would guess that the tall bare trees are old ones which experienced a fire and the shorter green t... That's a big caravan. As it passed, I saw that it was called a Cottage. The Tauranga footbridge, created by some of the early farmers, renovated in the 1990s and now being ... One of the bridge anchors. I know I shouldn't have been reading this newspaper from across the room but I was intrigued by the ... This cafe has a good selection of both pies and cakes. Canoes. There are an amazing number of roadworks in the North Island at the moment. I don't know if it's alw... White Island, which is apparently an active volcano. Later, I would pass a mountain on the land whic... The notice board gives information about the danger from tsunamis. A small wildlife refuge in Whakatane. Ducks. Ducks. Fluffy chicks. A duck. Oh, hello? What's going on here? I think this is the recently violated duck's attempt to get her feathers back in order. The purple tree has made a purple circle on the ground. I have now been told that it's a jacaranda. People on Lake Rotoma. Lake Rotoma. The New Zealanders are not only worried about species being brought in from abroad; the... A swimmer in another lake, photographed while I was waiting at yet more roadworks. Unusually, these ... Near Rotorua, there is a pair of neighbouring lakes known as the Green Lake and the Blue Lake, becau... ... wheras the blue lake has a bed of rhyolite and pumice. Both lakes. The blue lake, on the right, is a popular place for swimming, boating and fishing, where... In the late 19th century, village of Te Wairoa was New Zealand's most popular tourist destination be... The strangest thing in the museum is this antique sewing machine up a tree. It stood in the car park... This is where one of the buildings in the village stood. The ground below the display case is the or... This used to be one of the hotels. There's not very much to see of the buried village so the path soon leaves it behind and just turns ... Part of a Maori canoe, constructed in sections so that it can be carried overland between lakes. The clear stream turns into this... ... and then this. The waterfall. There's a tree growing through the walkway. Some of the water comes over this smaller fall. After missing out on my spa bath in Dunedin, I think I've become a bit to eager to book one here on ... These two books come with the room, as do the orange items next to them, which are a thermos contain... There's clearly no truth at all in everything I heard about New Zealand not being bike-friendly. Thi... Here's a cyclist, look. Rotorua. The Youth Hostel looks busy. Rotorua is famous for its geothermal activity. Here in the park, there are many little fenced-off ar... There is a Christmas carol concert going on in the park. In the evening. In the daylight. With peopl... In the park. In the park. Singers. This is a garden of scented flowers, put here so that blind people have something to enjoy. It seems... Steam catching the sunlight. Steam. This water pool is remarkably deep and clear but you can only see down into it when the wind blows t... Some of the children have got bored with the carol concert and have decided to try jumping over this... Steaming ground. Rotorua. A bubbling mud pool. Rotorua. A bird. The carol concert, with some steam rising on the left. Mud. Just above the pool, the mud has formed itself into a little chimney. It looks like that must happen... The locations of the fumaroles change over time and the local authority have to keep moving the fenc... Interesting colours. Rotorua. Rotorua. Rotorua. Rotorua. Steam is rising from a few places in this picture. A little further down the road, I found steam com... The waterfront in Rotorua. The last of the evening sunshine. This seaplane takes tourists to see volcanoes, probably including White Island which I passed earlie... Most of the people here are tourists like me. Kiaora Japan, an unusual name for a restaurant. I considered going for a Chinese but I didn't really understand the opening hours. Rotorua by night. On occasions in the past when I have brought my bike into a motel room, I have found that it makes a... The petanque court at my motel. There were people playing here when I arrived yesterday.... Tirau is a very touristy town. Pretty much every building on the main street is either a souvenir sh... The shepherd statue belongs to a church. The giant dog is the tourist information centre and toilets... An unusual vehicle. This is the primary school and the van parked outside it is a mobile dental clinic. Just out of shot... There were a few sets of hand prints along the street in Tirau, with no apparent explanation. Cape R... About 30 km along the road from the town formerly known as Oxford is Cambridge. This is its primary ... A decoration on the roof of the fire station. Cambridge. Cambridge. Cambridge Town Hall. Picnickers in the park. There are several vans just out of the shot selling a variety of food but it... The cricket pavillion. Cricket. According to a plaque here, Cambridge is "the centre of the equine industry in New zealand"... Cambridge is slightly larger than Tirau and has just as many tourists. I don't really know why as th... The main street here has mosaics depicting famous horses. These people all just jumped off that cliff but I failed to get a photograph of any of them. The woman running last night's motel recommended the gardens in Hamilton. It was a good suggestion. ... Hamilton Gardens. Hamilton Gardens. It's gone a bit Escher now. As well as a few large landscape gardens, Hamilton Gardens has a whole cluster of smaller themed gar... This rather startled-looking bird is in the Sustainable Backyard Garden. I'm not sure if's actually ... Some people might understand why I've included this picture. The Tudor garden is currently under development. This is all there is at the moment. The spiky fence... One entrance to the Italian Renaissance Garden. Dunedin had a Chinese garden but Hamilton easily beats that. Each of the gaps in this hedge leads to... There's a Japanese Garden... (Japanese Garden) ... an English Flower Garden... (English Flower Garden) ... a Chinese Garden... (Chinese Garden) ... an American Modernist Garden... ... an Indian Char Bagh Garden... (Indian Char Bagh Garden) ... and the Italian Renaissance Garden which I mentioned earlier. Romulus and Remus in the Italian Garden. Every time I come downstairs in this hotel, I'm surprised how light and airy this corridor feels. It... This is a type of bird that I first saw in Melbourne about six weeks ago but I haven't been able to ... I don't know what they're doing either. Plants. A double deck bridge. This is the Waikato river, the same river which flowed over the Huka Falls and through those power s... According to the sign, this is New Zealand's oldest in-ground swimming pool but it's currently close... Also, there's a shoe in it. There are plenty of options for eating out in Hamilton. Hamilton. Hamilton. A statue of Richard O'Brien, creator of the Rocky Horror Picture Show and host of the Crystal Maze. ... The Court House, at the end of the absurdly wide cul-de-sac where my hotel is. If it was me, I would... "Trundler" seems to be a peculiarly New Zealand word. I don't remember seeing it in Austra... Today, the road has turned into something approaching a motorway standard, although it did have a cy... I've come to Auckland Airport to check what I need to do to get a box for my bike tomorrow. It looks... Auckland Airport. There's a lot of camera equipment waiting for somebody in my motel lobby.... The shower head in this hotel is high enough to stand under but now the bedside light switches are t... It is. Airlines which provide bike boxes always seem to make the boxes considerably bigger than the airline... I've now checked in my bags and have about an hour to spare before having to go through airport secu... I like how the departure boards tell passengers for later flights to just relax. Like at Christchurc... You even get to look at pretty scenery while waiting to take off. We've just been treated to an utterly bizarre Lord of the rings themed flight safety video, featurin... Leaving Auckland. Auckland. Funny swirly patterns on the water. The coast to the North of Auckland, and two boats. A view. Waves on the coast. A long straight beach. There is cloud sitting above all the land but none over the water. The beach which begins to the lef...