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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pasture Land - North Island, New Zealand

 We continue our journey southwest on the North Island towards Wellington, just below the Tongariro National Park.
We see grazing sheep, again!
There are far more sheep in New Zealand then people!
4.5 million people in the WHOLE country...amazing!


 cows...


 surprise...MORE sheep!


 a lone tree...
November 23, 2012


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Tongariro National Park - North Island, New Zealand

 Mt. Ngauruhoe 
In contrast to the other two active volcanoes in the Tongariro National Park,
Mt. Ngauruhoe is a conical, single vent volcano with perfectly symmetrical slopes.


 The other two, Mt. Tongariro and Mt. Ruapehu, have multiple vents.


 Mt. Ngauruhoe looks like a stereotypical volcano and the reason why it was chosen to star as Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings.


 There are many photo ops along the way through the park.


 We stopped along the road to get a few shots of Mt. Ngauruhoe as the clouds constantly changed in a short period of time.
(Karen from Adelaide, Australia)

 Leon and Karen (Adelaide, Australia)


 We moved on to get views of Mt. Ruapehu, the southernmost of the three and the one showing signs of erupting in the near future. But, ironically, Mt. Tongariro has erupted twice in the last 3 months with no advance signs of possible activity at all...the first in August and the second, November 21, 2012 (two days before this day).

 It was windy and cold and the cloud movement was spectacular!


 There are an abundance of hiking trails (the Alpine Crossing) that circumnavigates Ngauruhoe and affords spectacular views all around, particularly of Mt. Tongariro.The safest and most popular time to walk the track is from December to March. The winter months become a tough alpine trek requiring ice axes and crampons and a need to factor in extra walking time, or not attempt it at all.


 We continued south on the Desert Road (Hwy 1), a typical single lane highway in New Zealand.


Tongariro National Park,
North Island
New Zealand
November 23 2012

A Volcano Erupts! Tongariro National Park, North Island, New Zealand

 After leaving Lake Taupo we continued to drive south on the North Island.
We had as close a view of Mt. Tongariro as possible due to the volcanic activity on November 21, 2012 in the early afternoon.
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 These photos were taken from a moving coach on a less than straight road.
We were amazed to see the steam gushing out of the Te Maari Crater!
The ash cloud had subsided by this day, November 23, 2012.


 There was no place to stop on this portion of the road so these photos are the keepers...


It was a cloudy day threatening rain but we managed to stay dry.
The volcanic steam mixes with the clouds hovering over the mountains.

We are in the Tongariro National Park passing some pretty amazing scenery!
Mt. Tongariro, New Zealand
The northernmost of the 3 active volcanoes in Tongariro National Park.
November 23, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Black Swan & Family - Lake Taupo, North Island, New Zealand

We stopped at Lake Taupo (North Island), New Zealand and spotted a black swan and her 5 youngsters.
Three of them stayed together while the other two were away from the group mixing with the local ducks.


 Kind of like the story of the "Ugly Duckling", but we know how the story ends!


 Mom is proud!


 She keeps an eye on us!


 She's lovely!


 ...only a moment of shut eye!


 She is constantly in and out of the water...now she's going back in!


 Magnificent white under  her wings...



Monday, December 17, 2012

Huka Falls - North Island, New Zealand

This photo was taken from a footbridge above the Waikato River in New Zealand.
It is a view looking upstream.


This is a view looking downstream from the bridge.
The Waikato is the longest river on the North Island (425 km.)


The Huka Falls drop 11 meters.


 You can witness the phenomena of natural hydro-power at Huka Falls...
220,000 liters of water / second!


A youtube video shows a kayaker navigating this river and the falls...YIKES!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXTSpGotcrA

WOW...amazing!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Beautiful Rotorua - Rotorua, New Zealand

The stench of sulfur can be heavy at times...
but, beautiful scenes abound anyway!
Lake Rotorua -  Rotorua, New Zealand
November 22, 2012

Intricate Details of a Maori Canoe - Rotorua, New Zealand

 We found this amazing canoe along the waterfront of Lake Rotorua in Rotorua, New Zealand.


 beautiful detail





Rotorua, (north island) New Zealand
November 22, 2012

Sea-Plane at Rotorua Lake - Rotorua, New Zealand

 a little a areal sight-seeing for some...


 we saw this plane come and go a few times during our time along the waterfront of Rotorua Lake.




back to the dock!
Rotorua Lake, Rotorua, New Zealand
November 22, 2012

The Illusive Black Swan - Rotorua Lake, New Zealand

 We were happy to spot another black swan on Rotorua Lake...this guy was  swimming in and out from under a small pier.


Rotorua Lake, Rotorua, New Zealand
November 22, 2012
 This series is all the same black swan on the warm waters of Rotorua Lake.
I wished that it would come closer to shore, but it wasn't the bird's plan to do so.












We saw a few of these elegant birds on our trip...more to follow!
Rotorua Lake, Rotorua, New Zealand
November 22, 2012