The Road North

Aaaand I’m back! My parents were here for two weeks in late Feb/early March, and the trip was incredible. Since it’s difficult to sum up with words, I’ll be taking you along on our epic journey through my photos. I’ve been overwhelmed with the number of shots to go through, but I’ve finally gotten a good start. Here goes!

Saturday, the day before my mom and dad were scheduled to land in Auckland, Andy and I dropped Higgs off at our friends’ place and began the long drive north. The North Island has one main artery, and by “artery” I mean a two-lane road. No super highways in this country, which I love. It takes roughly eight hours to reach Auckland from Wellington, but we were staying in a holiday park south of the capital, so we had about seven hours to go. Here’s a map of the drive:

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About halfway through our road trip, we hit the Desert Road and were graced with gorgeous, clear weather. The Central Plateau volcanos of Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe rose majestically in the distance, so I had to stop for some photos.


Ruapehu is on the left, and you can see Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings) in the distance on the right.


Mount Ruapehu is an active volcano which erupts every few years, most recently in 2007. Since they’re so frequent, the eruptions are fairly tame, unless you happen to be on the mountain. Ruapehu is also home to the North Island’s only ski fields. I’d like to give those trails a try one day, hopefully this coming winter.



Ngauruhoe is also active and most recently erupted in 1974. It’s easy to see why they chose it as Mount Doom, with its classic volcano shape. I got a much closer view when I did the Tongariro Alpine Crossing two years ago. You can even hike up it, but it’s more scree sliding than anything else, so I opted against it at the time.


Although I could’ve happily taken photos there in the wildflowers all day, Andy was waiting for me in the car. Back on the road!


As the road wound closer to Ngauruhoe, the clouds were perfectly positioned above the volcano, and it looked as if it were erupting. I definitely wouldn’t want to be that close during the real thing.


After the Desert Road, we stopped for lunch in Turangi, the trout capital of NZ (actually “the world,” according to Turangi, but I’m sure that’s contested). No, it actually wasn’t a meal of trout, but I wouldn’t have minded.

After lunch, the road took us around Lake Taupo, and we stopped briefly to admire the view.


Now, our main mission was just to get to Clarks Beach, where we’d be staying the night. Road trips are fun, but even driving in NZ does get tiring after a few hours. Luckily, Andy and I were taking turns behind the wheel to make it more bearable.

As afternoon turned to evening, we pulled into Clarks Beach Holiday Park. What a welcome sight! There was even an American flag.


After dropping our stuff at our cute little one-bedroom cottage, we set out to explore the beach.





The trees along the coast were amazing, extending horizontally over the water while their roots held tight to the red cliffs.


What better place could there be for a seaside swing?



And then a red dog came by. I’m almost convinced he’s a part of the clay cliffs.


Although there wasn’t much sea glass, I did find some interesting shells.


I even got one thrown at me, courtesy of the lovely Andrew Pearson…


The sun began to set, and wow, what a view!


We made our way back to our cottage to explore some more before dinner. How cute is our little cottage?


We later enjoyed a meal of fish and chips with cider on that table out front.


The view from our place wasn’t bad, either.


Full of greasy food and tried from a long day of driving, we soon called it a night since we had to get up fairly early to drive to the airport and welcome my folks.

In the morning, I just happened to open the shades at the perfect time. What a sunrise to wake up to!




Stay tuned for the first Fly Fam destination – the Coromandel Peninsula, and much, much more!

3 thoughts on “The Road North

  1. Lovely photos, great sunrises


  2. I’m so excited to relive the trip through your photos. It was incredible.


  3. Gorgeous pictures, Kelsey!! I love your writing almost as much as your photography! Miss and love you, Kelsey!
    Love, your Granby, Ma family


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