In the spring of 2016, Henderson Productions took an extended do-it-yourself driving tour of New Zealand.   We’re excerpting portions of our trip in this blog beginning with    

Our early morning northward bound journey in New Zealand is accurately described by Christina Thompson in her book Come Ashore and We Will Kill You and Eat You.  “The road winds uphill and down, through pastures, over creeks, past long driveways that disappear over the top of a pasture only to reappear again as a ribbon in the distance between two fields.   There are pine groves and pockets of manuka and great balls of gorse in the paddocks.”   We passed hill after hill, vegetable/fruit stand after stand, small country village after country village for 3 hours or so before the landscaped changed.

Typical landscape in the southern portion of the North Island

Stopped before 9 AM at the farmer’s market in Sanson which was a combination between British boot sale/flea market and farm goods with lush fruits and vegetables.    I bought a packet of Girl Guide cookies in solidarity.  While at the Sanson market, we opted to try a Viv’s World Famous cream corn – a pastry horn piped full with fresh cream and, in our case, boysenberry jam.   Clearly enough for two to share.     Now why isn’t this sort of delicacy as famous as its cannoli cousin?   No idea.    New Zealand LOVES sweets.    Of all sorts.    And there are seriously good pastry bakers – no crust has been bad.    Kryptonite.    Downright deadly!    At least we’re walking most of it off on a daily basis.

Passed through the town of Bulls where there are no lack of available puns and takeoffs on the town name.    A realtor billboard with a supersized picture of a mid-50’s woman looking confidently over her shoulder with text “We sell fairly – no Bull”.   “Befriend a Bull” over the Bulls Friendship Clubhouse.   Etc.    Worth a smile.

Another pronounciation conversation:    Waiouru.    We’ve determined the closest is “why are you”.    But we’re not sure.

Green Lake near Rotorua

Ultimately the rolling farmland and periodic gorge journeys brought us to a high scrubby plain and massive views of New Zealand’s Mt Tongariro National Park with 3+ snow-capped volcanic peaks which have, more or less, been responsible for the landscape specifically of this region but also the entire country.    We’ve since learned this central portion of the North Island is ground zero for the beginning of the Pacific ring of fire tectonic plates. 

The flat desert also featured a series of Burma Shave-type notices from the NZ Army who use the region to train.  The billboards promised virtual annihilation if anyone ventures 20m off the road “IN BOTH DIRECTIONS.”     “Training on both sides”, “You are in a munitions training area.   Possible explosions and blasts on both sides”, “Do not venture off the highway on both sides” etc.    Guess we got it.    Also, a clever sign: “Kids driving you bonkers?   We’ll sort them out.    NZ Army Museum 500 m ahead.”  

Haku Falls and veridian waters

We ate our lunch of leftover lamb cutlets, bread, cheese, fruit and a couple beers at a lovely picnic table along Lake Taupo before heading into thermal country toward Rotorua with bright, bright green fields – a clear benefit from the warm soil.

Stopped at Haku Falls which proved viridian green actually exists in nature.   (For my non-painter friends, it’s a common conversation that some paint colors aren’t ‘natural’ and shouldn’t be used in landscapes, etc.)    Gorgeous green and turquoise colors.   Then off to the brightly colored thermal pools at Wainatopu for a surreal one hour walk along a series of mineral deposited bright colored mudpits oozing, gurgling and bubbling in various depths and all letting off sulphuric steam that keeps the air temps pretty warm and more than a little stinky.

What’s your experience in New Zealand?   We’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on Facebook at