Tongariro NP, Rotorua and Auckland, New Zealand

Oturere - Emerald Lakes hut, Tongariro Northern Circuit, New Zealand. Photo Michal Klajban

Oturere – Emerald Lakes hut on New Zealand’s Tongariro Northern Circuit. Photo by Michal Klajban. The hut is equipped with 26 bunks, wood stove for warmth, gas stove for cooking, water tanks in the roof. And Norski toilet.

Tongariro National Park

Tongariro Northern Circuit trail, New Zealand. Michal Klajban

Tongariro Northern Circuit trail, looking easy. Michal Klajban

Ohinepango Springs, Tongariro Northern Circuit, New Zealand. Michal Klajban

Ohinepango Springs, still a walk in the park, Tongariro Northern Circuit. Michal Klajban

Tongariro National Park, in the middle of New Zealand’s North Island, is a spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Site encompassing three active volcanoes, Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro, all sacred to the Maori.

In the summertime the Tongariro area sees a lot of hiking and climbing as well as mountain biking, horse riding, fishing and rafting, while the winter is when the snow birds fly downhill on skis and boards.

Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu seen from the summit of Tongariro. New Zealand. Guillaume Piolle

Mt. Ngauruhoe and Mt. Ruapehu seen from the summit of Tongariro by Guillaume Piolle.

Tongariro NP is equidistant between New Zealand’s two biggest cities, Auckland (330 kms/206 mls to the north) and Wellington the capital (320 kms/200 mls to the south). The only accommodation inside the park is at Whakapapa or Iwikau tourist villages, though the latter is almost exclusively for the skiing season.

Emerald Lakes seen from near the summit of Mt. Tongariro. New Zealand. Follash

Emerald Lakes seen from near the summit of Mt. Tongariro. New Zealand. Photo by Follash

The most famous hike in the area is the 3/4 day, 50km Tongariro Northern Circuit, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, incorporating the Tongariro Alpine Crossing which takes about a day. Best December – March.


Lady Knox Geyser, Rotorua, North Island, New Zealand

Lady Knox Geyser, Rotorua, North Island, New Zealand.

Rotorua – also known as Sulphur City – is one of New Zealand’s primary attractions, with its geothermal activity, hissing randomly venting steam, chromatic yellow/orange streaks of mineral crystals in deep, bubbling pools, wisps of stinky sulphur smoke drifting among the trees and boiling grey mud creating art nouveau visions. But that’s not all. . .

One of Rotorua

One of Rotorua’s hot, sulphurous pools.

The Rotorua region, with its lakes, rivers and forests in addition to volcanic activity, has developed into a major tourist hub offering a vast range of sporting opportunities that only the ever-active Kiwis could imagine, from the normal – hiking, mountain biking, white water rafting – to the less usual – bungee jumping, sky diving, jet boating – to the positively mad adrenalin activities – zorbing (bouncing down a hillside encased in a transparent plastic ball), luge (kind of toboggan) racing down a mountainside and scree-sliding into a volcano, among others things. . .

Champagne Pool, Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, Rotorua, New Zealand.

Champagne Pool, Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, 20 minutes south of Rotorua.

And Rotorua’s not just about seeing bubbling mud, tourists can also take mud baths and soak in therapeutic spa waters.

A Maori Culture Village, Rotorua, New Zealand.

A Maori Culture Village experience, Rotorua.

Touristy and artificial but nevertheless interesting is the Maori experience around Rotorua where tourists can visit different mock-traditional villages and see housing, singing, dancing, listen to legends and taste the indigenous cuisine.

Rotorua Museum, New Zealand.

Rotorua Bath House, 1908. In the City of Rotorua and now a museum. Photo by Margojh.

Getting there: Rotorua is in the centre of new Zealand’s North Island, 230 kms (140 miles) south-east of Auckland, and 80 kms (50 miles) north of Taupo.

Craters of the Moon, Taupo, New Zealand.

Craters of the Moon, Taupo, still steaming.

River boarding in Taupo, New Zealand

River boarding (just using the power of the flow and a static anchor, no motors involved! ), Taupo.


Auckland city at night, New Zealand

Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand, but not the capital which is Wellington.

Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city – though not its capital – and encompasses almost one third of the country’s entire population. One of its most unusual features is that it has two harbours on two coastlines, the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea,  so this is a popular location for yachting types. ‘Auckland on Water’ boat show is one of the biggest events in the city. Auckland Map.

‘Windy’ Wellington at the southern end of the North Island is the capital of New Zealand, a compact, busy, cultured city with a fine life style and great location between an attractive coastline and a range of low hills. However, while Wellington as the country’s capital is worth a look and an entertaining place to hang out in it doesn’t possess any must-see attractions, nor is it near any, though it is the main vehicular route to the South Island via ferries to Picton.

Auckland suburban sprawl, New Zealand

Auckland’s suburban sprawl and poor public transport means traffic jams and occasional smog for locals and car hire for visitors.

Auckland’s climate is warm though wet, with temperatures falling not much lower than 7C (44. 6F) in midwinter, July. July is also the wettest month of the year with almost 6 inches of rain. The driest months of the year, summertime (December – March) get from 2. 5 – 3. 5 inches per month and temperatures reach highs of about 32C (73. 5F).

Auckland Botanic Gardens, New Zealand

One of the attractions in Auckland Botanic Gardens.

Some of Auckland’s attractions other than sailing include plenty of the usual urban delights such as varied museums and Botanic Gardens but also nearby rainforest trekking, climbing one of several dormant volcanoes, visiting and assessing (i. e. getting wrecked on. . . ) fine wines or spending time on Coromandel’s beaches.

Auckland ferry port, New Zealand

Auckland’s ferry port.

Auckland city view, New Zealand

City overview.

Auckland Map