We're now driving on the west side of the North Island, on highway 1, just south of Levin. The hills are still lush with greenery and trees, but we're starting to see a few bare rock formations, and we passed a big snowy mountain not too long ago. The roads we're traveling on wind through small towns; in one of them, we stopped to eat lunch at the Copper Kettle (everything was fried!) to buy two CD-R discs (to burn music for the road -- our Previa has a CD player!), at the local "Everything Electric" store. The ocean is just over what we can see, to our right. We're going to turn in to Otaki Beach to see what it looks like. Actually, this area keeps handing us glimpses of terrain that reminds me of a greener version of coastal Northen California. It's beautiful.
23:46 - Wellington - We arrived at the Brentwood Hotel (the guy at the front desk here is one of the nicest people I've ever met) at around 8:45pm and had a proper dinner at the hotel restaurant (the food was excellent). Tomorrow, we leave early in the morning for the ferry across to the South Island.