After a restless and stuffy 13 hour flight (seriously – we’ve had longer bus journeys more comfortable) we arrived in New Zealand.
Despite being in a jet-lagged haze for the first couple of days, we were both able to appreciate the unique character of the city. Far from the dusty, smoggy hustle and bustle of a South or North American metropolis, Auckland felt new, clean and relaxed.
We got our first real look of the city from the top floor of the Sky Tower – more than 300 metres high.
From here, above all the skyscrapers, we could see the volcanic shape of the landscape. We hadn’t realised before arriving that Auckland has its own volcanic field containing not one but 53 volcanoes. Although the field is currently dormant, it is still active and could go off again in the next few hundred years.
We decided to get a closer look at one of the remnants of volcanoes that still exists in the city – Mount Eden (Maungawhau).
Feeling like we needed to see something a bit more dramatic than a pleasant grassy hill, we took a boat out to nearby Rangitoto island – the site of Auckland’s most recent eruption.
One of the most interesting things to see on the island is its lava tubes, which are huge tunnel-like structures created by the passage of liquid lava during the last eruption.
Climbing 260 metres to the top of the volcano wasn’t hard, but it was surprisingly hot work because the uneven and crumbly black rock underfoot seemed to reflect the heat from the sun back up at us. The reward was a spectacular view of Auckland’s cityscape and we even spotted a Tui bird along the way!
The last stop for us in Auckland was to pick up our means of travelling around the rest of the country – a campervan! We’d decided long before we arrived that the best way to explore New Zealand and make the most of our visit would be to get a campervan and have the freedom to explore the country without worrying about where we would be sleeping every night.
With our new home on the road and our fridge freshly stocked, we were all set to begin our New Zealand adventure…