My first New Zealand road trip is in the books! Our group drove the four hours north to the resort town of Taupo, an adventurers paradise located on the shore of Lake Taupo. We spent Saturday and Sunday exploring the lake, waterfalls, geothermal fields and hot springs! Lake Taupo is New Zealand’s largest lake and feeds the Waikato River which flows over Huka Falls. We were also treated views of the active volcanoes of Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe (aka Mount Doom from the Lord of the Rings films) from the lake and we had beautiful Autumn weather all weekend. The most popular thing to do in the area is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, but I’m still working up to be in shape for that all day hike!
Our first activity for Saturday morning was exploring the Taupo Farmer’s Market. We sipped delicious cappuccinos while browsing around and maybe wishing we didn’t have brunch plans already so we could eat the homemade pastries and breads for sell ;). After perusing the market, we walked to Spoon and Paddle for brunch and I had awesome eggs benedict! After brunch we drove to Huka Falls Spa Park Walk to take the hiking trails to the falls along the Waikato River. It was a really gorgeous shaded hike that wound up and down along the river. At times we would be walking at water level and then we would be high above the river. I loved it! After an hour of hiking we started to hear the roar of the rapids and were amazed at the vibrant blue color of Huka Falls! The color was so bright it seemed unreal. There are several outlooks along the Waikato River and then Huka Falls and we enjoyed listening and watching the rapids. You can also take a jet boat and see the falls from the river which sounds cool! Hopefully I can do that next visit!
On our hike back to Huka Falls Spa Park we stopped at a natural thermal spring and went for a swim. This was my first time in a hot spring and I was amazed that the water was hotter than a hot tub! It was incredible to watch the mini waterfalls in the hot spring flow into the pools and river below. Every hike should end with a stop at a hot spring because it definitely felt good on the muscles :).
For dinner we ate along the waterfront at the Lake House and enjoyed the fresh night air with a view of Lake Taupo! Sunday morning we got up early to head to the marina to catch our steamboat to see the Maori Rock Carvings on the lake. Unfortunately the sky was so cloudy our view of the volcanoes were obscured but we still had a lovely boat ride. It was about 45 minutes to the carvings and they are very impressive! We were a little disappointed to learning the rock carvings are only about 30 years old, but that was our bad for assuming they were ancient lol. The carvings are accurate depictions of the Maori culture and it took the team three summers to carve all the pieces. In the summer swimmers and kayakers hang out by the rocks and I hope to do that later this year!
Our last stop in Taupo was to visit Craters of the Moon, which is an active geothermal area and is the largest in New Zealand. The area lies in the Taupo Volcanic Zone, and they have carefully constructed walkways since new steam vents could spring up at any time. Aside from the slight smell of sulfur, the walk through Craters of the Moon was very peaceful and meditative. The area gives off a desolate feel and perhaps because of that feeling all the visitors remained quiet while walking through the incredible geothermal steam. I was mesmerized the entire time and I think this is the most unique and coolest (no pun intended lol) place I have ever visited. The hydrothermal eruption craters were spectacular and so full of steam that it felt like walking through a sauna!
Our group had so much fun in Taupo and it’s definitely a fun place to visit and explore! There are so many great activities ranging from the leisurely to the extreme, and I look forward to returning especially when I have visitors! So come see me in NZ! 😉