When we first arrived in Napier and settled in including sorting our flat and buying a car (shout out to Hugh the Fiesta) we were pretty excited to go on our first road trip. We wanted somewhere fairly nearby so we could test out the car and get there and back within a weekend so we settled on Lake Taupo about a 1.5 hour drive away over the mountains.
Lake Taupo is New Zealands biggest lake and is the Caldera of a volcano. For the Geography geeks out there like me (Stacey Downes 😉 ) the caldera was created 26500 years ago by a volcano collapse due to a huge eruption.
When we arrived at Taupo we went straight to our backpackers Rainbow Lodge, we were a bit anxious as this was our first backpackers experience but as soon as we arrived we loved it. We were greeted by a gorgeous Collie dog called Jess who gave Chris a high five (enough said). We opted for the private en-suite option which was kitted out with double bed, bathroom and TV for $68 per night (around £28) for both of us so I would highly recommend it. That day we planned to do the 3 hour round trip walk from the backpackers to Huka Falls, it made our day when the girl at the reception said we could take Jess with us, and I must say she is the most well behaved dog I have ever met (sorry Max Barrett).
We set off for Huka falls and the weather was great considering it was still winter (just coming into summer now sorry people of the UK), the walk was brill we passed some bungee jumpers, natural hot pools and the walk was beside the river the whole way. I was really excited to see Huka Falls as it had been one of the first places I researched when we decided to move over to New Zealand. As we got near to the falls it was pretty clear we were there due to the loud sound of rushing water, it was quite strange as you approach as the river is still very calm and then you move around the corner and you are hit with the view. Huka Falls is at a point where the Waikato River is forced into a gorge make the river drop 10m. It was amazing the river was a lovely blue colour and there was a bridge where you could stand right over the top of falls.
That night we went for a curry deal that we got on GrabOne (NZ Groupon) and the restaurant was freezing, we were sat next to a gas heater and we were still frozen, but on the plus side it was one of the best curry’s we have ever had (I had chicken tikka and Chris had mango chicken). We then bought a bottle of red and drank it back at the backpackers watching Saturday night TV (Rock and Roll).
The next day we got up early as we had booked a trip to see the Maori Rock Carvings with a tour company called Chris Jolly who offer boat trips to the carvings. The trip out to the carvings included tea, coffee and croissants which we weren’t expecting so it was a lovely surprise. Chris disappeared onto the top deck (I stayed in the warm, for those of you who know me this wont come as a shock) he came back down very excited about the ducks he had been feeding and telling me how I just had to come upstairs. I must say it was worth it as two ‘local’ ducks recognise the boat and as they fly up to the top deck of the boat they take bread right out of your hands, I think Chris preferred this over the carvings to be honest.
When we got to the carvings they were really impressive they were carved in the late 70s with only a hammer and chisel and they are 10m high! There were other carvings around the main design and every time you looked at it you saw something new a bit like Where’s Wally but more interesting 🙂
The next stop on the agenda was ‘Craters of the Moon’ which is a geothermal area which is full of steam vents and mud pools, it was pretty cool. Some of the craters looked like they belonged in Jurassic Park, you expected a T-Rex to appear at any minute! It was a geographers dream.
The last stop before home was the Aratiatia Dam (that’s what you get when your boyfriend is an engineer) which is a hydro electric dam that blocks of the river before some pretty impressive river rapids.
We loved Lake Taupo and hope to go back again before we leave.