After spending our first 10 days in Auckland, it was time to hit the road and head for Gisborne. The drive was supposed to take a little over 6 hours, but with Molly’s bladder and my penchant for pulling over and snapping photos, our first NZ road trip took closer to 9 hours.

6 hr 10 min…WRONG

As anyone who has travelled with Molly knows, she has a unique ability to go from wide awake to a mouth-gaping sleep in no time. This usually happens when she’s on the sunny side of the car (and not driving). She’s perfectly aware of this, so she always asks that I wake her up if I see something pretty. Needless to say, she didn’t sleep much on this one.

Now don’t get me wrong, every square mile of New Zealand is not stunningly beautiful. There were plenty of times driving on rural two lane roads that if you didn’t know any better, you’d think you were driving through the rural Alabama – only on the other wrong side of the road.

But what’s striking is variation in landscape in such a relatively small area. You can go from a flat pasture of grazing cattle and sheep to a waterfall flowing through a volcanic rock canyon to a completely unspoiled beach in less than 30 minutes of driving.

Almost every time we’ve commented to a Kiwi about how beautiful the scenery is, they’ve chuckled and said, “Just wait until you get to the South Island…”

Talk about grass-fed beef…
Summer fun at McLaren Falls
Taking in the Bay of Plenty.
The Southern Hemisphere’s Pacific Coast Highway.
You talkin’ to me?