Driving around the North Island
From my experience the easiest way to get around New Zealand is to hire a car and drive yourself to the places you want to see. It's helpful to have a GPS but don't completely rely on it! The GPS can't cope with new construction, on a few occasions it told me to 'turn right/left' and there was no road to turn into!
New Zealand roads are generally good, with the major urban areas connected with multi-lane highways, once the roads narrow down to single lanes, there are frequent overtaking bays so that means you aren't stuck behind a slow moving tractor for hours on a dangerously windy road. My only frustration was the lack of 'photo stops', many places had quite stunning scenery, especially driving through mountains, but no places to safely stop.
Mount Taranaki dominates the landscape on the west coast, on this particular day cloud was hitting the volcano and then swirling out again.
Elephant Rock, on the west coast near New Plymouth. Taking this photo involved parking in a designated spot which didn't have a good view! Then risking life and limb walking back down the main road, on the non road side of the barrier to take a photo!
A roadside stop before driving into the hills, the most scenic drive through mountains was the drive along the west coast to New Plymouth, lots of ferns, picture perfect temperate rainforest, steep windy road and nowhere to stop!
The Manawatu Gorge, it's northeast of Palmerston North and the road leads to the Hawke's Bay area and the city of Napier. This was an unexpected find, it's quite a popular hiking (or as it's known in New Zealand, tramping) trail.
Driving from Napier, through the mountains to Lake Taupo.
Originally called this photo 'random waterfall'! There was a rest stop on the Napier to Lake Taupo road, so I pulled in to take a break, walked over to where some other people were standing and taking photos and got a huge surprise to see this rather stunning waterfall! No idea it was there, (that lack of research prior to visiting a place again! The positive repercussion is that there are surprises to be found and experienced!)
I've since found out that these are the Waipunga Falls, great place to stop on the Napier to Taupo road!
Back to Mount Taranaki being hit by cloud, this time a photo from the side of the road.