|Location: Hamilton, New Zealand|
|Local time: Thursday, 12:30pm|
I've just returned from a trip south to Wellington, the capital city (pop. 450,000). Unlike Hamilton (where my parents live, and the second-fastest growing city in NZ), Wellington is pretty much just how I'd remembered it. And I still love it.
I tried to stop every now and then along the way, taking photos where I could, but the weather tended to be against me. Anyway, here's a small selection of typical New Zealand scenes...
Looking up the Huka Falls, near Taupo. One minute off the main road south,
these falls are part of the Waikato River, which is 100m-wide at the beginning
of the falls, and is forced down through a 15m-wide channel.
Looking down the falls. Many have died trying to kayak through them.
Probably the safest way to get up close and personal to them without, err, dying.
No visit to New Zealand would be complete with a photo of sheep. Yes, it's true, we have a lot of them.
Around 40 million actually - about 10 for every person!
Oh, and in case you were wondering... we also have plenty of cows.
And wild horses.
Some Wellington architecture. The old...
... and the new...
... and a mix of the two!
The city is fronted by the harbour, and backed by hilly suburbs, which are full of super-tight corners and roads like these.
Looking out over the city from atop Mt. Victoria (196m).
Oriental Parade - the exclusive and mega-expensive part of Wellington.
The NZ Parliament Building (right), and the Executive Wing (center) - known as the 'Beehive' (for obvious reasons).
(Oddly, the brown roof is constructed from 20 tonnes of hand-welded copper).
A statue of Richard John Seddon (1845-1906), outside the Beehive. Sometimes known as King Dick, he was the longest serving
Prime Minister of New Zealand, and is regarded by some as New Zealand's greatest political leader.
The rest of the world refers to the fruit simply as 'kiwi', but we have to differentiate it from the kiwi bird, and the kiwi person
(ie. New Zealanders) - hence, surprisingly enough, we call it 'kiwifruit'.
A country church.
A cute little farm cottage off the main road.
This one was cute too, once.
Power pylons, on their relentless north-south march across the country. For geographical reasons, they follow a very similar route to the
2000km-long State Highway 1 (the main road going North to South down both islands) - ie. the path of least resistance. This shot is taken
high up in the desert plains of the Tongariro National Park (one of the world's first national parks, and one of 13 in the country, which
makes up for 10% of New Zealand's total area).
Out here in the desert is the best place to have New Zealand's Army headquarters and training grounds.
(It's not like a middle-eastern desert of course, but a kiwi version, with more grass!)
Mount Ruapehu (which means 'pit of noise' in Maori) - one of the world's most active volcanoes (there's been at least 60 eruptions since 1945).
It's the highest point in the North Island (2,797m), and has several major ski fields.
A sunset that greeted me as I drove through the Waikato region, on my way back to Hamilton.
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