This is an uninhabited volcanic island where visitors can walk over lava fields and through lava caves (tubes left behind by the passage of liquid lava). Vegetation varies from ‘raw’ lava fields to scrub and sparse forests including the largest pohutukawa forest in NZ. The lava fields have a distinctive black colour which was very intriguing to see!
The island can be seen from Auckland due to its distinctive symmetrical volcano rising 260 m above sea level,
On the island we started to see the NZ icons: silver fern and pohutukawa! These two plants are a symbol of NZ and can be seen anywhere throughout the country!
According to a NZ friend (Hi Rachel!), January is the time the Pohutukawa start blooming so we were lucky to be here at the right time, they are known as the NZ Christmas tree (due to its red flower).
It is called One tree hill because there once was a tree on top of the hill, which was taken down by a settler long ago. Other trees replaced it, but nowadays no tree longer exists, as the last one was chain sawed and destroyed in 2004, in a protest for Maori's rights. The government can't decide which new tree to plant so the Hill remains treeless.
It is nonetheless magnificent and one can view the whole Auckland area, as well as both harbours from up there.
The silence is priceless and we found out that many sheep like this hill as well!
(Did you know that there are more sheep than people in NZ? 39 million sheep vs 3.9 million people, according to 2007 FAO data)
Mount Eden was awe inspiring! It is a crater from an old volcano and is also sacred soil for the Maori. It is huge and very impressive! It is also a great spot for picnics or a good book.
One of the things we liked the most about Auckland was the abundance of green areas where to go for a stroll, to think or just wander around.
Auckland Domain is a huge park, 75 hectares of green areas who has been developed around the cone of an extinct volcano and it has the Auckland Museum in the middle. It is the oldest park in Auckland.
We fell in love with the beautiful flowers and bright colours in the Wintergardens of the park, particularly the tropical greenhouse.
Take a look for yourself!