From Taupo to the west again, mostly farmland but a few large forrests like Pureora.
Waitomo Caves, Auckland and Rotorua were the Golden Triangle of tourism early last century, when it was not uncommon and encouraged to break of pieces of stalactites in the caves for souvenirs. Black water rafting, abseiling or just a visit to one of the three major caves are the thrive of the touristic infrastructure there.
Apart from the coulourful stalactites and stalagmites, Waitomo is famous for its glowworms, the larvae of the flies produce bioluminescent light to attract other insects to their web. A river flowing at the bottom of such a cave ensures enough food to be brought into the cave. After 9 months feeding on that caught insects and a short period of metamorphosis the fly emerges with a life span of a few days and no provisions to eat or process food, since their only goal is to find a mate. The courtship is rather brief as I have been told.
After Waitomo on backroads (up and) down to the west coast and heading north to Raglan, with its good surf spots. A few waterfalls and huge natural bridges can be visited on the way. Miranda and its hot springs was the next destination and then, to close the circle on my travel around NZ, via Thames up the Coromandl, their slogan is "Coromandl - good for your soul", or as Monaco Franze would have coined it: " mehr seelisch, verstehns?". But there are fresh treats for your stomach as well Green Mussels, Oysters and more, steamed, smoked or raw.
The ferry brought me to Auckland late afternoon and I visited some museums and cycled 120km to Piha for a swim near the iconic lion. That beach and its waves were featured in the film "The Endless Summer" from 1966 (The Endless Summer). The title refers to the idea that with enough time and money you could follow the summer around the world, making it 'endless', well, who would have such crazy ideas...