Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Road To Auckland

A funny thing happened on the way to Auckland. As the wheels of the rental car rolled through the northern Kiwi countryside, we discovered a different New Zealand. Gone were the majestic high mountains of the South Island, the rugged fjords of Milford Sound, and the beautiful coast of Abel Tasman. No longer did we see the pristine trout streams of Taupo, or the sophisticated bustle of Wellington. Here, the classic art deco of Napier has been replaced by funky corrugated sheet metal, and the rolling sheep pastures by elegant equestrian ranches. Caves filled with glowworms beckon, and idyllic beauty overwhelms.

Out of the blue, the small town of Hamilton hits us with the best public park and botanical garden we have ever seen. Acres of beauty line the pristine Waikato River, and international theme gardens showcase style from around the world. We wander through quickly, disappointed we have little time to spare. New Zealand’s largest city awaits.

Auckland lays languidly along a spectacular harbor, nestled among dozens of volcanic hills. While it may not be New Zealand’s capital, it is far and away New Zealand’s most vibrant and happening city. Great food, sophisticated shopping, and hot entertainment keep Aucklanders hip. A mix of international cultures and styles, Auckland provides the urban mojo that defines the North Island.

Enjoy the Hamilton and Auckland Photo Gallery.

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