Some lovely driving through a rural landscape and new roads, one of which was the west side of Lake Taupo to the campground at Tongariro (the road less travelled).
Looking at the three mountains in the middle from the west side. This is Ruapehu with its summer snow, and The Chateau.
Spot a wisp of a vent up there in the foothills of the volcanic plateau. The trees in front are the native cabbage tree, ti kouka.
At our Tongariro campsite (with the grounds full of Tongariro crossing trampers and all of them in the kitchen making dinner), we had a stroll along a creek beside the campground. And then cooked our dinner on the meths cooker beside the van.
That was our one night in the van.
Next, Waitomo and the famous boat ride in the glowworm cave. Walked through another cave and admired some lovely geology and fossils and waterfalls and trees and ferns all around the area.
Large pohutakawa in full flower in a small coastal community.
Walked across a paddock (the farmer and his dog shot past us on a mission to round up cows) - these rocks are loaded with giant oyster shell fossils. And some sharks' teeth said the farmer, but we didn't find those.
Stayed at the Waitomo Caves Hotel, an olde world hotel in Waitomo village.
And then we headed south to New Plymouth, staying at a motel with a landmark 140 year old pohutakawa. It was the annual festival of lights at Pukekura Park; below is the big lake at twilight as the lights began to come on.
Beautiful weather for strolling around parks and tracks and the beach. And admiring pohutakawa - NZ's Christmas tree.