Thrillseeking in Taupo

Trip Start Jul 09, 2013
Trip End Feb 15, 2014

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Sunday, January 19, 2014

Lake Taupo is the largest lake in New Zealand; the area surrounding the lake is another popular holiday resort where lots of thrill-seeking activities are available. The most famous attraction in the area is the Huka Falls – a fast flowing waterfall down a rocky valley on the Waikato River.  One of the thrill-seeking activities on the Waikato River is a fast jet boat which takes you along the river right up to the waterfall. On our first day we took a walk to the waterfall and saw the jet boat in action so decided to book it. It was perhaps a little expensive but was something we had seen many leaflets for and really wanted to do. We were pleased to find out when we arrived that we could sit in the front of the boat next to the driver; this meant we could get the best view. We spent 35 minutes speeding up and down the river and doing lots of 360 degree spins, the driver took us right up to the waterfall and we bounced along the rapids. It was a pretty cool experience! 

You may have noticed in our previous blogs that we do quite a bit of walking; these walks have been preparing us for the ‘Tongariro Alpine Crossing’, a 20km track not far from Taupo in the Tongariro National Park. This trek is regarded as ‘the best one day walk in the world’ and takes you through a barren landscape past several volcanoes. It was absolutely freezing when we awoke at 5am for this walk but the sunrise over the beautiful landscape made it worthwhile. The temperature didn’t take long to warm up, and within a couple of hours we had gone from wearing a jumper, coat and trousers to being in shorts and a t-shirt. This really sums up the weather in New Zealand, it is incredibly hard to know what to pack most days. Walking around the mountains certainly didn’t help because at certain points you are exposed to the elements and the wind chill takes the temperature back to below freezing! 

The walk winds its way past Mount Ngauruhoe (known as Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings) and takes you through some incredible volcanic valleys where you are surrounded by volcanic rocks; it is strange to look around and see a brown and grey landscape with absolutely no green. The weather was perfect for us with a clear blue sky and this meant we could see a long way in to the distance and get some good pictures. There are only two steep parts of the walk which we didn’t find too difficult, one part of the walk was however described as an easy descent, in fact we found this the hardest part as you have to basically skid and slide down a very steep hill. A lot of people were running down the hill, we don’t understand how they could do this; Rachel went slowly and managed to fall on her backside twice. Luckily the ground was covered with soft sand/mud and due to the volcanic area it was very warm. At the bottom of the hill we rewarded ourselves by having lunch sitting next to the crystal blue Emerald Lakes. 

The views during the walk were fabulous and the landscape was like nothing we have ever seen before. We walked past a number of craters, the best of which was red crater; from the summit you look over a sheer drop into the crater below, this was very impressive! 

We also decided to do one of the side trips and climbed to the summit of Mount Tongariro. This was again described as easy however we found some of the steep parts to at least be moderate! From the top of Mount Tongariro you can see two snow-capped mountains which you cannot see from anywhere else on the walk. 

Towards the end of the walk you pass Te Mari - an active volcano which was pumping smoke into the sky. This was a pretty unique site as there aren't too many places in the world where you can walk right past an active volcano! It was a really good day out and we walked in total around 15 miles (23 kilometres), we were certainly aching a little the next day! 

On our last morning in Taupo we went parasailing over the lake. This activity is where you are attached to a parachute and then dragged along in the air by a speedboat; you wear a harness which acts as a seat (like a swing) so it is very comfortable. At 800ft and with perfect weather conditions we had a fantastic view of the area and this was a great way to finish our time in Taupo.
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