New Zealand’s North Island feels surprisingly different to South Island. Where the South Island is full of immense mountains, wide and empty landscapes, deep fjords and pristine forest, North Island seems to have more picture-perfect volcanoes, buzzing cities, sunny beaches and geothermal activity. It’s also easier to get around by bus. Well, less difficult anyway.
Mount Taranaki is the volcanic pimple on the North Island’s nose. It sticks out on the south west side and requires quite a long diversion, whereas the other destinations in this itinerary are far more sequential. Figuring out how to get to and from here by bus, and then to and from the Tongariro Crossing took hours. Sadly it just wasn’t possible to get to Taranaki without wasting huge amounts of time.
Once again, the Department of Conservation proved super useful. Their ‘kia ora’ greeting on their correspondence made me pine for New Zealand. The Waitomo Caves were a little off route too, but having had one of the most incredible experiences of my life here, it just had to feature.
So, once again, the budget backpackers need to spend more time getting around the place. Once again, my advice for them (and anyone else who visits New Zealand) is; if you’re going to spend several weekes here (which you should) then consider buying a cheap campervan and, like us, finding a lovely German couple to buy it off you at the same price you paid for it. Nga mihi!