While we had our hands on our latest set of wheels for review, the new Holden Astra, we were put in the mood for a little taste of Europe. Unwilling to pay the extra carry on costs for getting an Astra to Europe we opted instead for going on a roadtrip around New Zealand in search of anything vaguely European. We were surprised to find we have our very own Stonehenge and even once New Zealand was privy to its own Eiffel Tower, albeit a wooden one.
Without further ado we present:
Our Vaguely European Roadtrip
The Hamilton Gardens
Bear with me on this one.
To get your roadtrip started from the top of New Zealand down to the bottom of the bluff you should spend a little time walking through the gardens. Step through the familiarity of the English Flower Garden, which will remind you of your nans. Then head to the Italian Renaissance Garden which would make a great place for a shoot out in Scar Face or something. You are now ready to start your trip down south!
Windmills – Palmerston North
The Netherlands has around about 1150 cute little windmills sprouting up through the countryside. Their windmills were used for draining the country as well as grinding corn and saw milling. They helped make the country what it is today.
Similarly the 55 modern slim windmills at the Te Apiti wind farm is an iconic symbol of New Zealand’s identity as we strive for a zero emission source of power. Each Vestas turbine generates 90 megawatts and together they generate enough power for 45,000 homes. In total in Palmerston North there are 158 windmills in the area, and they have become an iconic piece of the landscape.
It turns out that New Zealand has its very own Stonehenge to scale replica in New Zealand. Unfortunately it isn’t draped in the same mysteries as the original but it’s still a fascinating place to go, and isn’t far from Wellington in the idyllic Wairarapa countryside which isn’t that different from Salisbury, apart from New Zealand’s rolling hills framing the sky.
Eiffel Tower – Dunedin
Less than a year after the original Eiffel Tower went up we made our own in Dunedin out of wood and rising about 40 metres. An elevator running up the center was used to part tourists from their hard earned money. I have a sneaky suspicion it was just a giant publicity stunt by its builders, Austral Otis Elevator Company, to sell more elevators.
Not to be outdone, Auckland made its own Eiffel Tower out of Whisky Barrels and bottles. Today, unfortunately, neither one of the Eiffel Towers are left standing. So to make the Dunedin stop of the roadtrip worth it, stop in at Etrusco at the Savoy, an Italian place known for having a great atmosphere and delicious pasta and spaghetti.
At the bottom of the UK and the bottom of New Zealand (Bluff) you will find Land’s End. The UK’s version has stunning cliffs and a signpost telling you various directions to other parts of the world you should probably be at instead, which appear to be just New York and John o’Groats. John o’Groats is located at the top of the UK. New Zealand also has its own John o’Groats, but it’s only an unofficial name for a river running into Milford Sounds.
While you’re at Land’s End get a snap of yourself at the giant chain leading down into the ocean and then get a paua burger at the Lands End Boutique Hotel right next door. Also, New Zealand’s Signpost is much better.
All up the 1,762km roadtrip will set you back 25 hours of travel time. I’d recommend going down the East Coast through Kaikoura, earthquakes permitting.