New Zealand A tour of The north island

White Island

After traveling from Tauranga to Whakatane by bus, we boarded a small boat to travel to White Island.

Whakatane River Maori Maiden

White Island active marine volcano is located 50 km off of the coast of Whakatane, in the Bay of Plenty, and is a part of the Taupo Volcanic Zone. It is the largest volcanic structure in New Zealand.

The crater contains a large, boiling lake. Visitors to the island are advised to wear masks because of the gasses released by fumaroles (cracks in a planet's crust). There have been attempts to extract sulphur from the volcano but due to numerous changes to the island (including eruptions and debris flows), all mining has been halted.
A rainbow of mineral colored rock covers White Island's landscape.

Wairakei Thermal Valley

After returning to Tauranga for the night, we went south towards Taupo, stopping at Rotorua to photograph the geothermal hot springs and mud pools along the way.

The boiling hot springs and mud pools.

Geothermal power

Wairakei Power Station 

After spending the night in Taupo, we made an early morning visit to the Wairakei geothermal power station. Wairakei was the first wet-steam power station in the world.

Across the road and, after a short walk, we arrived alongside New Zealand's longest river, the Waikato. At Huka Falls, over 220,000 liters of water flow per second as the water is squeezed through a shallow ravine of volcanic rock.

We discovered valleys of beautiful ferns and a rainbow of colored rock during our hike through the Wairakei thermal valley.

The Rangipo Desert

Driving south, we had stunning views of the three active peaks: Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, and Tongariro.

A little farther south, before the rerouting of SH-1, Mangaweka was a bustling township. When the road was moved, it became a virtual ghost town. Now, the once, almost deserted Main Street, has a growing artists' community.

Historic Main Street

We stopped for a moment to enjoy the view of the Rangitikei river from a bridge on Ruahine road.

Drifting over Clareville

The next morning we were fortunate enough to have calm winds and were treated to a balloon ride over Clareville.

I've never experienced anything quite like a ride in a hot air balloon. Is there such a state as anxious-serinity?

Castle Point

In the afternoon we drove across farmlands to Castle Point, passing many curious, but wary, sheep along the way.

The stunning views, trees, and toetoe grass reminded me of the coastline in Northern California.

Driving up to Castle Point Lighthouse was remarkable. the Maori name for area is Rangiwhkaoma, which translates as " where the sky runs".

With limited time, we couldn't stop everywhere, so a few photographs had to be made of the landscape out of the car window.

Mount Bruce

The next morning we went to the Mount Bruce wildlife center to photograph the Kiwi bird. Here is an important fact; the Kiwi bird is nocturnal so we did what we could using the stuffed Kiwi on display.

Papawai Marae

We were fortunate to be invited to visit Papawai Marae where we learned about the Maori's rich culture as well as the political and social history of the Wairarapa and New Zealand. At its peak, it was the largest Marae in the country and the location of the Maori Parliament.


Greytown is a charming and historical town in the South Wairarapa District that provided a centralized hub for many of our excursions. We were fortunate to drive by this barn in perfect weather to make photographs.

Martinborough Vinyards

We enjoyed the afternoon tasting wine at three wonderful vinyards including Colombo, Schubert, and Ata Rangi.

The vinyards at Schubert Winery

At the end of the day we drove through a refreshing storm and were then treated to a spectacular cloud break and rainbow.

Cape Palliser Road

Continuing south, we took Cape Palliser Road to explore the southernmost tip of the North Island.

We passed the Ngawihi fishing village with its bulldozers ready to bring fishing boats ashore.

We enjoyed the dramatic scenery along the way to the lighthouse at the southernmost tip of the North Island, watching fur seals bathing in the sunshine along the rocky coastline.

The pine forests, although a controversial subject, were beautiful to photograph as the sun disappeared behind the clouds.

We were fortunate to stay the night at the Wharekauhau Lodge; nestled in the foothills of the Rimutaka mountain range.

In the morning, we had time to explore Ocean Beach.


Unfortunately, the trip had to come to an end. But I can't think of a better place to wrap up the adventure than in the beautiful, windy, city of Wellington. Thank you Geoff for being a wonderful tour guide, Paul for pushing me to make better images and take advantage of new technologies, and all of my new friends in New Zealand, it was a wonderful journey.

See more of my photographs on Behance and learn more about Photoshop and Lightroom on my blog!

Created By
Julieanne Kost


All Photographs Copyright 2015 - Julieanne Kost. All Rights Reserved.

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