Too Many Pretty Driving in New Zealand

Christchurch to Auckland

Driving through New Zealand has been an absolutely wonderful experience. We’ve seen almost the entire length and breadth of the country, chugging along in trusty Barry the camper van, and in the process we’ve fallen in love with the place.

Everywhere you look the scenery is stunning. Not all of it is spectacular in the mountains and waterfalls sort of way, but the view changes dramatically from one place to the next. There are rolling hills covered in sheep, pastel-coloured hills behind a lake, a gorge with a roaring river and, yes, the snow-topped mountains. Sometimes the peaks are everywhere, sometimes it’s just one in an otherwise flat landscape.

We found ourselves trying to compare what we saw to other places we’ve been. Aside from places like the totally new geothermal fields of Rotorua most of our stops in NZ had similarity to somewhere in our own travel histories. The triumph of New Zealand is that it’s all here – the variety is preposterous. Sometimes the land looks like Shropshire, sometimes Switzerland. Sometimes it’s the Lake District, sometimes the Scottish Highlands. Driving all of it meant that we saw this huge variety in a compressed time, like a Bill Bryson tome on speed.

Over a mountain pass, or even just round a bend in the road, we’d encounter the next set of views. If the passenger was reading the guide book the driver would shout “Pretty!” as a lake comes into view ahead. Then you see the hills rising up to the sunset to the left. “Pretty!” again. Oh but now to the right are the snowy mountain tops, spread out off to the horizon – “Pretty!” Sometimes you just don’t know where to look. Too many pretty.