Swimming in a crater...
Trip Start Feb 12, 2011
54Trip End Jul 09, 2011
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We arrived in Taupo on wednesday in the midday heat with our backpacks, jumped off our bus and made our way through the town
I don't know what quite makes up your mind about a city, each one has a certain vibe, while rotorua was really interesting and I learnt lots i didn't feel like it captured me, but taupo has me hook line and sinker. Within a few mins walking around Steve had turned to me saying gosh i really like it here, its strange how you can attach yourself to something quite quickly and have no idea why. the town is around the top east side of the lake (see the map). The lake was created when a volcano exploded so dramatically it took itself off the map and left behind a huge crater. The explosion in 186AD was so huge it was noted in china - the sky went blood red, and by the romans - the sky turned black, it plunged the world into darkness and its erruption was 50km high
Thursday morning we packed a picnic lunch and headed off on a shuttle to mount Tauhara (ta-ou-har-a). Taupo is surrounded by mountain ranges - their layout beautifully described in maori legends. We got dropped off at the foot of the mountains and looked up, we were at sea level and they looked so high! couldnt exactly tell which one we were going to summit but the track took you up the tallest one in this area and so we followed the direction the little arrow pointed, past the sign telling you this was maori land, across a field and up up up. It was a jolly hard up hill! never a flat bit for a break, the first few minutes was up a hill infront of the range that was open land so in the hot sun, from the bottom it looked small in comparison but even from the top of there we got amazing views out over taupo and the lake. The track then headed into the bush, thank goodness
Hot hot hot when we got back to the hostel so a quick change and we pottered down to the lake side and jumped in
Friday we decided to spend the day by the lake, on the way we stopped at another pharmacy who gave me more drugs to help with the bites (i say gave..i bought them, i cant believe how expensive basic medicine is here, im used to tesco prices!). the day was amazing, a repeat of yesterday afternoon, we lazed in the lake, on the beach, on the grass, i cant believe people can live in such a beautiful scenic place, your eyes never get tired of taking it all in. Everyday we stopped at a playground on the way back to the hostel, but i assure you this is no ordinary playground. its like a gym outdoors, there is a kiddy one then across the green is the adult one, we've seen many a tanked man pull up for his work out here. Set in a huge green area its a course that you get around using your arms (I'm so rubbish at it!) steve loves it! platforms after each stage give you the leg up for the next bit, its moving monkey bars, so pedels for the arms, chains with rings on and moving circles and of course plenty of bars for pullups! steve goes round and then helps me to too
Saturday was our last full day in taupo, picnic packed we walked out to the river that flows out of the lake and followed it as it twists and widens through the countryside. On our way we met a lovely austrian girl watching the bungy jumpers from one section of huge cliffs into the river! she was also following the river path up to the waterfalls so we walked along with her. On the way you get to an area of hot springs flowing into the river, lots of people stopped to swim here. the river was so blue and clear and the inlet with the hot springs was steaming! however it was midday heat and we were so warm we decided we would swim on the way back. We carried on climbing up and down the hills that the river had cut through, the river and area was beautiful. A couple of hours in we heard the noise of falling water getting louder and louder until you couldnt hear much else, we came out of the track into the viewing platform of hukka (pronounced hooker) falls. Its incredible, the power of the water is unbelievable! the sides of the river suddenly become very close together made of very hard rock that the water hasnt worn away, so suddenly this huge peaceful river goes into a frenzy as it all tries to fit through the passage
We continued through the river path before deciding to leave it to find a place called the honey hive somewhere near by (we heard it was free entry and you got free honey wine tastings!!), getting slightly hot, slightly lost and very dusty we eventually found our way. lunched under a nearby tree before heading into the lovely airconditioned honey hive building. THey had two huge hives in there, behind glass (thank goodness i've never seen so many bees!!) with big glass tubes heading to the outside. Literally hundreds off bees were swarming all over the honeycomb edges and makes their way to the outside. we learnt everything about bees, the differnent kinds, that most are female (only about 5males per every season exists in each hive. They strive to fertilise the new queen who flies up to 20meters up in the air (to make sure she gets the best!) before the males fall back to earth dead, they live maximum a few weeks - steve decided he wouldnt want to be a male bee! haha!
They had a huge shop of honey products and of course the tasting area...the women took one look at me and took me away from the wine (sniff) and to the healing creams (turns out the running under cold water when we had got in there hadnt improved the look of my hands from the swelling of the bites) she gave me lots of testers to rub on, they smelt and felt so lovely and soothing! we then got to taste! yum! so lovely and sweet, we tried a dark and a light honey mead, i liked the extra sweet one =) we tried everything they could, but they do have a limit on tastings! before looking around the aisles of honey and bees wax candles and kits. as I was trying many testers a man nearby said "ouch somethings been attacking you", yea dam mosquitos in rotorua was my reply, he made a few comments about maybe i should get so help with them, i was holding my arm in a sling position as it was so painful, i said i would, he was lovely and then left us to it. A few minutes later a tap on my shoulder, it was the lovely man again, he said he felt really strongly that i needed some treatment, its the worst he had seen, and he felt that now he had seen me he felt he couldnt walk away, he said we were risking my health walking through the bush where there are many bugs around and if any got into my bites that were already so swollen we could be in real trouble, and asked if he could give us a lift back. Bless him i must've looked a right old sight! We gladly accepted the lift and he dropped us outside a doctors, our own little scottish guardian angel!! More drugs and a shower later, we headed back into taupo for another irish pub meal - too good value to pass up and our last stroll down the lakeside.
Taupo is gorgeous, happy, a wonderful community...I definately will be back one day
Lots of love to all,
A little note - little maori figerines are everywhere here, carved into walls, stuck on buildings, even on the supermarkets. We had learned in rotorua these are they to protect the people inside villages buildings etc. If the tongue is out to the front its a challenge (how you see in the haka routine) and if its out to the side its a welcome! im constantly looking whether we are welcommed or challenged!