Just as the weather defies description, the landscape here does too. As we’ve begun our drive south from Auckland to Wellington on the south coast of the North Island, we’ve seen occasional flat fields, interspersed with a lot of…well, I’m going to call them lumpy green hills, often with sheep or cows dotted about on them. And then blue mountains in the distance with snow on the top.
The hills are lumpy because they’re mostly small hillocks formed by volcanic activity over thousands of years. It’s a bit like a weird imaginary other planetary landscape with a lot of lush grass on it. Think of the Shire in The Lord of the Rings and you’ll not be far wrong.
Sheep farming remains a big industry here, though it’s significantly reduced recently in favour of dairy farming. So we saw a lot of both sheep and cows as we travelled. Just to prove how unpredictable the weather is, quite often half the cows would be standing up, half lying down. Even the livestock’s confused!
Occasionally, the road goes over steep sided deep ravines, passes some hills and then suddenly a huge river will appear flowing fast. In places there’s a vast floodplain to contain these rivers after heavy rains, reminding me a bit of the creeks in California, but on an even grander scale.
The only thing about the landscape that is predictable everywhere is the lush green grass and forest throughout. Beautiful.