About half way through my holiday to New Zealand I noticed that my blog posts were becoming a little repetitive. The problem was that New Zealand has such varied scenery, all of which is either beautiful, impressive or spectacular, the holiday blogger quickly runs out of superlatives and is forced to spend more time consulting a thesaurus than actually writing. Thus, some retrospective opinions now I have more time to spend polishing the prose.
Firstly, travelling from north to south works better. The top of the North Island has green and gentle rolling hills that would not look out of place in the UK. The countryside is as beautiful as many places in the UK, but if you are from the UK there is a familiarity which means relatively it causes less of an impression compared the scenery further south. As one travels south, the green and rolling-ness is disrupted by the geothermal activities (grass does not seem to thrive around boiling mud pools and sulphur vents!) and even after the green returns, every view is dominated by an active volcano or a lake formed as a volcanic crater.
At the top of the South Island, as we journeyed in-land, the hills from being “pointy” in shape to having odd-shaped bumps which stuck out at all angles (sadly no photos!). Slowly the green and grassy bumps evolved into brown rocky outcrops, the verticals began to soar rather than merely tower and then gradually we were surrounded by proper rocky snow-capped mountains! I have described it here in a few sentences, but in reality it was a gradual change that we observed over 2-3 days of driving and simply could not be captured on (digital) film.
The other thing that was striking about the Southern Alps was how the flat the surrounding plains are and how quickly the mountains rise at the edges. While the elevation slowly increased as we travelled South, once we were on the plains the mountains seemed to rise up very sharply from the edges with no gentle foothills to obstruct your view of the mountains’ majesty.