Its common for tourists to come into New Zealand through Auckland, rent a car, and travel south, leaving the country from either Christchurch or Queenstown. Because of this, many rental cars end up in the South Island and rental companies will offer relocation deals so that people will drive these cars back up north. Through TransferCar.co.nz I booked a relocation car for 7 days. The rental fee was waived but I still spent roughly $300 NZD because I opted to pay for the full insurance and I had to pay for fuel. Still not too bad, and it was definitely worth it.
Queenstown. I didn't explore this time around. I picked up my car, sent my snowboard bag to Japan, and was on my way north.
Franz Josef. I met up with my a friend here. It was cloudy and drizzly, but that didn't stop us.
Nelson. I spent only a few hours in this little town, enough to sit at a cafe, wander a bit and take a few photos.
Queen Charlotte Drive... This road from Nelson to Picton traces parts of the Marlborough Sounds. You can't see it in the pictures but the air smelled amazing. It's probably what all those "ocean breeze" candles try to imitate, but better, because it actually smelled like flowers.
Picton. This is the port city where I took the ferry across the Cook Strait to the North Island.
Wellington. I stayed with a friend here and in the morning we went to a cute cafe on Lyall Bay, the south side of the city.
I drove up to the Brooklyn wind turbines for a view of the city.
On the road north...
Mahia. I was hoping for better weather by now, but well.. it wasn't happening here.
Whakatane (pronounced fah-kuh-tah-nee.) I arrived around noon and decided I would spend the day and night here. So that evening I went on a little mission - I took a bus to Ohope Beach, then followed the 2-3 hours coastal track back to Whakatane. I got pretty side tracked with taking pictures and wandering, so I ended up having to run the last part to beat the dark.
Pictures from the road...
Coromandel PInensula. When I arrived at the Cathedral Cove parking lot at 6pm, nearly all the spots were full, which meant there'd be lots of people down there. So I quickly decided I'd do that walk and check out Cathedral Cove in the morning, for sunrise, when there'd surely be less people out. So that evening I chilled out at Hahei Beach, did a bit of yoga, journaled, and took pictures as the sky did all sorts of weird, magical things...
The finally morning I woke up at 5:15 and made my way down to Cathedral Cove just in time for sunrise.
After hanging out at the beach, and watching more and more people trickle in, I left and headed to Auckland.
I'd call it a success!