Taupo, North Island – April 20 to April 22, 2017
On our way from Plimmerton (a 4-hour drive) to Taupo, we had a couple of interesting experiences…first, we watched a tire fall off a vehicle being transported in front of us but thankfully, it bounced the other way into the grass! (We were thankful for guardian angels watching over us!) A little further along (and not as scary, but quite funny!), I tried to turn on the a/c but ended up turning on the seat warmer. I didn’t realize it at first and was quite confused when I exclaimed, “Holy Cow! My butt’s on fire!” Needless to say, this caused much laughter in the backseat — because of what happened and because of the word choice. (I usually go with “bottom.”)
With all that excitement behind us, we decided to make a stop in Feilding (known as Friendly Feilding), which I read was voted the most beautiful town in New Zealand 15 times (in addition to being friendly)! It was a nicely laid out town with lots of landscaping and flowers everywhere. We ate lunch at Murphy’s Irish Pub (after making sure we were adhering to the dress code) and watched surfing at Bell’s Beach on T.V. (which we’d driven past when we were on the Great Ocean Road in Australia!).
G had literally worn a hole through her high tops, so she was due for some new tennis shoes. We stopped at Gracies first (we had to!), but they didn’t sell footwear. We ended up finding the perfect pair (and very friendly service) at a new shoe store having a big sale!
I bought a skein of yarn (and the friendly lady there tried to sell us another skein to match G’s shirt!) 😉 Now I have to decide what special thing I should make with it…
We continued on our journey to Taupo and counted 4 very different landscapes as we drove along. One of them was an incredible gorge area that looked like a mini Grand Canyon but covered in beautiful green grass that went on for miles!
When the drive seemed to be getting a little long, Mike told the kids, “at least we’re not driving through the desert.” No sooner had he said that then we passed a sign that said “Desert Road!” And suddenly, the landscape became very desert looking! Next we saw signs saying that it was the New Zealand Army training area with warning signs to stay on the road as there may be explosives, etc.!
We arrived at our house in Taupo (situated on the shores of Lake Taupo) to find the host waiting for us with a bottle of red and a bottle of white wine and some Easter chocolates inside! (She felt bad that she hadn’t realized that the entry carpet was a bit wet and water stained as a result of all the rain from Cyclones Debbie and Cook.) We certainly didn’t mind but appreciated the wine and chocolates!
Our first full day in Taupo, we headed to Huka Falls. We parked in a bungee jump parking lot and watched two girls do the swing bungee before we started our walk to the falls, that was supposed to be a 2-hour return.
The first part of the trail was a nice, paved trail that L and G called “too civilized.” It started out in a huge park with wide open green spaces, a playground, and a mountain biking course. As the trail dipped down toward the river, it changed to a hard gravel trail, which was more to the kids’ liking. 😉
We passed by some hot thermal pools, where quite a few people were enjoying the natural hot water areas that looked like little rocky pools with small “waterfalls” falling into them. Unfortunately, we didn’t have our bathers, so we continued on our hike.
There were beautiful views of the Waikato River and the banks across it, which included a gorgeous lodge and a huge canoe/kayak training course. Around that same point, the river seemed to break off into three different “fingers” as it moved downstream. We kept moving and then saw one of the points where the fingers came back together and the water was louder and moved faster. As we got close to the falls, we could hear it crashing before we could see it.
Along the way, Mike took a picture of me taking a picture of the kids next to what I called a gigantic day lily!! 🙂
A little further along, L sweetly offered his assistance as a balancing post while G got a rock out of her shoe. 🙂
There was a great bridge over the top of the river where the falls started, so you could get nice views of it right from the middle, as it rushed down toward the actual falls.
A minute further down the trail was another lookout point, where we could actually see Huka Falls. It wasn’t tall at all, but the force of the water and the amount of water churning and splashing was awesome! It was so worth the walk!! After taking a bunch of pictures (and selfies!) and watching it for a bit, we headed back on the 1-hour return hike.
Near the end of the return hike, G and L wanted to take the narrower deeper path. Both Mike and I thought it was photo worthy as you can see below. 🙂
After lunch, sock shopping, and a little time at a nearby playground, we hopped in the car. Oh, wait. This wasn’t our car. We just spotted it, and thought it was super cool! The owner and passenger showed up shortly afterward and told us it was a replica, not an original, and that they were driving to Nelson in it…in a day!! (That’s a 4.5 hour drive, plus a 3-hour ferry ride, and then an additional 2-hour drive!!)
While G needed new shoes, L was in need of some new socks. He found these, but we ended up with a multi-pack of white ones instead. 🙂
We headed to Craters of the Moon, which is basically a geothermal walkway with steam rising from the ground all around you and bubbling mud pits. It took about an hour to walk around the park, including the extra loop that brought us to a lookout over the whole area. It’s was a totally unique experience!
While dinner was cooking, we walked down the hill quick to have a look at Lake Taupo (which we really hadn’t spent any time seeing) and the sunset. It was pretty much down by the time we got there, but there was still a little color in the sky and some nice silhouettes. By the end of the day, Mike’s walking “meter” on his phone said we’d walked more than 22,000 steps!! WOW!