After 17 hours in the air, John and I touched down in Auckland, New Zealand early yesterday morning. Given that Tolkien’s tales are brought to life in this beautiful country, it was only appropriate that we were met by a giant dwarf statue on loan from Middle Earth.
We plan on road tripping through New Zealand, so the first order of business was picking up the rental car. Yours truly forgot to pack her driver’s license so John will be the sole pilot on this trip, leaving me to navigate. My husband isn’t the least bit upset with this arrangement as he was irreparably scarred by my first turn at an on-the-right-side wheel during our road trip through Ireland in 2009.
In planning for this bucket-list trip, I picked my top 10 must-see places and John, who has been here twice before, added a couple. Last week, we mapped out our route — about 13 sites in 26 days. We leave Auckland today for our first stop — Coromandel.
As a lover of the Great Outdoors, New Zealand has been on my list for decades. The country is composed of two large islands — North and South Island — and is undeniably one of the most beautiful spots on the planet.
Polynesians sailed here as early as the 5th century, but came to inhabit it permanently in the early 1300s, following their ancestor Kupe, who named the country Aotearoa — “Land of the Long White Cloud.”
Dutch explorer Abel Tasman landed in 1642, naming the country “Nieuw Zeeland,” but European settlement didn’t take hold until Captain James Cook arrived in 1769. New Zealand became a British colony in 1840 and gained its independence in 1947.
Today, it’s home to 4.5 million people and 70 million sheep. Good thing two travelers from a little town in North Georgia on the other side of the world like lamb chops.