Windy Wellington: Opposite to Auckland in Almost Every Way

Windy Wellington. The antithesis to Auckland in so many ways. Auckland was originally the capital of New Zealand, but Wellington later became the capital in order to have a better meeting place for people from both islands. Wellington is on the southern tip of the North Island, just across from the top of the South Island. However, it’s hard to imagine two cities so opposite to each other that have served the same purpose at some point in time.

Auckland is the financial centre of New Zealand and everything in the corporate realm. It is a great city, but it feels much more of an American city than Wellington, which mirrors many European cities. Art and culture are intertwined in the funky capital. Tattoos and dreadlocks replace the suits and BMWs of Auckland. Even the public toilets have character.

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What’s that smell? The Sulphur of Rotorua

Head south from Auckland and almost immediately the scenery shifts from urban to suburban, although generally less so than driving up north. The truth is that there just isn’t much outside of Auckland. The drive is pretty though. Most towns are indistinguishable from one another. Each city has a similar structure to it and you can pass easily in and out of them as you casually lose your navigational sense of location. That is, until you get to Rotorua. Not that it looks a whole lot different but when you get there, you’ll be greeted with one unmistakable trait: the smell of sulphur.

Rotorua is an area with a great amount of geothermic activity. In truth, all of New Zealand is rather volatile. The two main islands that now make up New Zealand used to be attached to the much larger country-continent of Australia. While it is no longer connected to Australia by land, it is situated on two very fast moving tectonic plates. This is the reason for all of the volcanoes and other cool physical features of New Zealand. In Rotorua, it manifests itself in a large collection of geysers, hot bubbling mud pools, and hot thermal springs. Oh and the stench of sulphur so bad in some areas that it’ll make you sick.

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Going North – Ninety Mile Beach, Cape Reinga, and A Tale of Colliding Waters

At this point of my stay in New Zealand, I was teaching 45 hours of classes a week. Teaching is not like working in the business world. In order to teach that many hours in a week, I had to be at school around 60 hours a week. Even considering the fact that I lived seven minutes from my school, I still had about four hours that were spent not working, sleeping, or eating. Exhausting. So my only free time was on the weekends. I needed to get north. I wanted to head up to Cape Reinga, the northern most point of the north island. Taking a bus wasn’t an option because of my limited time frame. I decided my best option was to hire a car. I learned how to drive when I was 15. I drove for about ten years before I moved out of the States. Still, I had never driven on the opposite side of the road. “Oh well, gotta try sometime,” I thought to myself.

Driving up north from Auckland is a very interesting experience. From central Auckland, you take the bridge over to North Shore. About twenty minutes after you cross the bridge, the city really starts to thin out. The hills start to roll and the scenery is beautiful. I was with a beautiful companion and we had a long drive a head of us in order to get to our destination for the evening. Luckily, we were able to catch a beautiful sunset en route.

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