New Zealand’s North Island has a stretch of road it claims takes you back times before now, when forests were real forest, waterfalls were real waterfalls, and tunnels were dug by hand. By and large, it delivers. The drive has a scenic tunnel dug with handpicks, lots of waterfalls, and readily accessible hikes to see them. That’s day two. Day one was car-commercial worthy roads and a massive, gorgeous, sunset on fire.
Look at that beautiful mist rising off the super-hot asphalt. A lot of our drive was like this, switching between rain and mist. Not great conditions but great eye candy.
A rare moment when the clouds cleared – knobby distorted hills is much of the landscape in this part of the island. They look like a music visualizer gone haywire and they go on for ages. Our trusty Ger, as I came to think of the car, waits patiently.
The day grew longer and we kept on driving. There’s supposed to be lots of stuff you can do and see on this stretch of highway, mostly hiking and old-timey craft shops. We weren’t in the mood for crafts, and hiking was planned for the day after, and we really needed to catch up on miles.. so we drove through most of the first half, stopping only to take some pictures here and there along the road.
And then we got to Nevin’s lookout. This was a promised amazing viewpoint on the road, and I didn’t want to miss it. We got there just in time for sunset after some waffling about where we would stop and sleep. Don’t let the fence to the right of the sign fool you, the entrance is across the road.
New Zealand back/farm country etiquette asks that you walk freely and close the gates behind you. To get to the lookout (there are several) walk up the hill keeping a bit to the right. There’s a worn trail for most of the way, and you’ll go through one more cattle gate before getting to what we thought was the first lookout, about fifteen minutes worth of hiking. We reached the top just in time for sunset, and then the sky was awesome.
Shortly after this spectacular skyward display, it started raining. Again. This part of New Zealand, and in fact the entire North Island, was covered under a massive moving storm for the whole week. That we got to see any sky at all was fantastic luck. To see such a beautiful sunset was something else altogether.
Next time : a Republic in New Zealand.