Palmerston North and beautiful Lake Taupo

Trip Start Jan 16, 2010
Trip End Oct 19, 2010

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Reid Campsite, Taupo

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Sunday, August 15, 2010

We moved on from Wellington heading north on the 15th August. We stopped in a few towns along the way to Palmerston North to have a look around and get dinner for the evening. We were invited for delicious free scones and tea in a teapot shop which Liam filled up on- they even gave us some to take away with us.

We spent the evening in Palmerston North where John Cleese was quoted in saying 'you may consider suicide in Palmerston North' but we arrived and found it quite lovely. It has a very grand town centre square with a grass park, benches, fountain and tree fairy lights that light in the evening. There wasn't much to see but it was at the end of the day so we parked up to cook and went out for some drinks in the evening. It was Saturday night and the strange thing about the town was that it was big and no1 apparently for students yet we couldn't see any crowds anywhere. We headed to a bar that looked nice but even though there were some people there the atmosphere was pretty dead and the music volume non existent. However we had a nice drink and chat- it's always good to get out of the Jucy hut! We then headed to the other side of town to an alley that seemed to be happening. There were a few pubs and a bar opposite with a dance floor which we popped into. We got some drinks and sat down, it was only then that we realised anyone in the bar was wasted and way above our age....the music was not more recent than the 70s either. Now we don't mind any of these factors, well maybe the completely wasted part, but the bar was just giving a sense that trouble could break out any second so we decided to leave. We took a walk round the square before heading to the car where we saw people going in and out of an old building. We went to check it out and sure enough it was a bar. It wasn't that busy but worth a drink. Anna got talking with one of the bouncers on the front door and what a small world he was originally from Billericay- just 10 minutes down the road to Anna's house in Essex. We stayed a little later and  had some drinks and a dance getting back to the car around 1am. 

In the morning we visited the Sunday Farmers Market and tasted the local products talking to their makers. 
As we waited for the library to open we went to the local bookshop and Anna discovered some great books to remember:

• The teen vogue handbook 2009-tips to working within a magazine
• Dita striptease (Von Teese, flip books)
• My wonderful world of fashion by Nina chakrabarti
• 400 art deco motifs by graham leslie mccallum

We then headed to the New Zealand Rugby Museum which has memorbelia from the beginning of the World Cups to the Trinations games. Anna took plenty a photo for her dad- take a look!

We moved on to Taupo which was a real highlight for us on the North Island. We arrived early evening and parked up for a short walk round town. We went into Element Bar and had some classic Snakebites on happy hour whilst playing some free pool. It was quiz night so we took part but unfortunately no luck this time, bad on us as they were actually fairly easy questions! : / We spent that evening parked up in a residential road as we didn't have our bearings on the town. 

The next day was a sunny one and we took the opportunity to walk the Huka falls walkway. Taupo is a thermal area and right near the beginning of the walk we came across the thermal stream that leads into the river. The stream has large rocks creating mini pools and waterfalls which creates many different areas to bathe in the natural hot water. We decided to take a dip when we were back from our walk.

The walk ran along the river, with low and high view points along the way taking us about one hour to reach the Huka falls. We stopped at the bridge over the gauge which leads up to the great waterfall. The water is forced into a narrow alleyway which looks spectacular and exits at Huka Falls-a wide and powerful drop at the end. The water consumes air bubbles and becomes pale blue and white which extends metres out from the waterfall. The water that falls per minute is enough to fill 7 Olympic Swimming Pools! 

Once at the falls we watched the Huka Falls Jet speedboats bring tourists to the nearest fall point whilst having a delicious pate, olive, cheese and cracker picnic lunch on the bench. Yum!

The walk back was much quicker and we worked up a sweat ready to get in the hot pools. Once there we were quite hot so even though it wasn't a particularly warm day we stripped down to our swimmers and got right in. It is the weirdest sensation stepping into a river that is as hot as a bath! Some of the areas further up stream were too hot to stay in long or even get in! There is steam coming off the water and 100 year old volcanic gravel rock you sit on or use to exfoliate. Free hot bliss- the best thing when you are living in a camper van- a free hot wash! 

Back at the carpark and we were pampered and refreshed. We met David and Kirsty from Edinburgh in a Spaceship camper- we thought this was the same as a Jucy but it didn't have a sink or fridge. We had a chat and said we would meet them later at Reid Farm- a local free campsite on the river.

We walked round the centre and then to the cheap Cybershed Internet shop before heading to camp for the evening. We met David and Kirsty there and cooked some yummy Chicken Korma dinner. We spent the whole evening chatting and time flew by. It was nice to be camping for the night to wake up to the scenic river. We said goodnight and we'd see them at Breakfast.

In the morning Kirsty and David had gone, maybe an early start- we were bit stumped, oh well. We headed straight for the natural hot stream as it was too good not to take a dip twice. The park area also had a really good challenging assault course which we just had to complete which was fun. Feeling refreshed we headed to the Volcanic Centre to learn about the activity in the area but unfortunately the centre was a bit of a let down as the displays were old and we learnt most of the information given already at Te Papa Museum, Wellington. We ended the day at the honey hive where they produce natural honeys including lavendar honey and the health boosting Manuka Honey. We had as many tastings as we could take- honey gives a great boost of natural energy but is too rich and sweet after many tastings. We watched the glass display live hive as the bee's came and went as they pleased. We looked into doing the high ropes course also on the same site but thought it was a bit too much money for us.

Evening was near so we decided to stay the night at Reid Farm again after a few drinks at Element.

In the morning we left Taupo but visited Huka Falls View Point, the Taupo View Point and Craters of the moon. Craters of the Moon was really good. We paid $6 for a self guided walk of a mapped thermal area. We were to stay to the paths, although this was breached sometimes ; ) We saw steam rising from everywhere, bottomless holes in the ground, craters, past boiling point water pools, bubbling mud pools and multicoloured soils from the heat and sulphur. Tropical plants had sprouted due to the activity heat which otherwise would not survive. We walked round, which took us about an hour, and walked up to the volcanic view point which stood just above two large steam eruptions.

We really enjoyed Taupo not only because of the amount of activities and natural beauty it has to offer but the great affordability which allows you to do many things. Huka Falls walkway area is great!

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