It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the scenery changes in NZ. Driving down SH6 you see the lush rainforest of the South Island West Coast, where they talk about the annual rainfall in metres. The highest recorded annual rainfall was 8100mm. A few hours later in Central Otago, they only get 25mm more rain a year than Uluru in Australia, which averages 307mm per year. One year, Central Otago only got 167mm! The lush green rainforest with dark tannin stained streams and numerous waterfalls, gives way to barren brown land with dry creek beds.
The quickly changing landscape is not just restricted to the South Island. I was driving the Wellington to Auckland leg a few weeks ago, on a picture perfect day. In the central plateau, Mt Ruapehu looked stunning with a fresh dump of snow, standing out bright against the blue sky above, and the lush green rolling farmland, dotted with sheep, below. Then there were fields full of carrots at Ohakune, ‘The Carrot Capital of NZ’. However, only thirty minutes up the road at National Park, it is a very different story. It is an alpine plain where only the hardiest of plants can survive.
We can also be as landlocked as you can get in NZ and then within a few hours be on the coast, in whichever direction you choose!