The North Island exclusive files: sea, trees and volcanoes

Hi again, and welcome to one of my last articles about New Zealand!

Today’s post presents a hodgepodge of places from the North Island, some you’ve seen before, some you haven’t, but with pictures never released on this blog before.
Our trip will start with a relaxing break in Napier, by the Pacific Ocean. From there, we’ll cross the Ahimanawa Range to spend a cloudy day in the Redwoods of Rotorua. Our next destination will be the volcanoes of the Tongariro National Park, before moving back to Auckland, the largest city in the country, in a second article. There, we’ll be watching planes and birds at the airport, and we’ll lie in the mud to shoot grebes and rails. In the end, we’ll spend one fantastic sunset around the gannet colony in Muriwai, a delightful ending for a great one-year adventure in kiwiland.



My time in Napier was short, as I was in transit between Castlepoint and Whirinaki. Cities are not really my cup of tea, but I enjoyed the museum and the surf of the ocean.

Napier was entirely destroyed in the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake that also killed some 250 people, a tragedy still present in today’s collective memory, it seems. The city was rebuilt when Art Deco was fashionable, and the style has become a trademark of the region, with an Art Deco festival happening there every year.

The earthquake also lifted coastal areas by up to 3 meters, a dramatic shift that almost emptied the Ahuriri Lagoon and transformed it into dryland, as can be seen in the figure below.

By CrashesToAshes – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

The Redwoods of Rotorua

I think I mentioned the Redwoods in my first article about Rotorua, many months ago. In short, it’s a plantation of exotic California redwoods that has become very popular among locals and visitors. I had fun there one evening, playing with trees and light.

Craters of the Moon

This is a geothermal area near Taupo, probably less impressive than the others in the region, but also a lot cheaper. It’s actually a by-product of human activity, as it was born from disturbances created by the nearby geothermal energy plant.

Return to Tongariro

When Vivien travelled to New Zealand, it was granted that we would see the Tongariro National Park, even if I had already visited the region. I mean… volcanoes!
It was a good choice, we got stunning conditions on the evening we arrived (cold, too!), a rainy day and then a sunny morning before driving south. The mountains didn’t fail to impress. We also saw a few Blue ducks (Hymenolaimus malacorhynchos) in Turangi!


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5 thoughts on “The North Island exclusive files: sea, trees and volcanoes

  1. Lovely photos as always! The Napier earthquake wasn’t really all that long ago, not long enough to forget. I’ve been aware of it since I was a child because my mother had experienced it when she was young and had mentioned it several times.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We LOVED Tongariro!! We did the North Circuit Crossing! We also hike Mount Doom…are you a Lord of the Rings or Hobbit fan?? I love the mountain capped pictures! We published a post just last week on our hike of this incredible landscape.

    Liked by 1 person

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