Rotorua to Taupo; that’s what our journey entailed today and I was looking forward to seeing the great Lake Taupo I’d heard so much about. With it’s surface area of 238 square miles it is the largest lake in New Zealand and is also so large that it could swallow more than half of London or two thirds of Hong Kong. Ok, well it could cover Singapore if that makes things any clearer, I’ve just read that so many times not entirely sure how big Singapore is so I thought it might be handy to choose somewhere I could relate to instead. Either way, it’s pretty damn big. It’s also a caldera formed by a volcanic eruption 26,500 years ago and it’s thought that it was the world’s largest eruption which I think is really interesting. I love natural disaster type things like this, especially volcanoes, so I was very excited to pay it a visit.
After waking up at 9am, packing everything up and checking out, we spent a little bit of time sat in the common area until it was time for us to leave. Due to last night’s sick incident, we had to ask at reception to see if they’d let us use some disinfectant type of things to scrub my bag a bit more and make sure it was really clean. I didn’t fancy having to put it on my back knowing what it had been covered in and a few times I think I was coming close to throwing up on it too! Once that was all sorted, we sat back and relaxed, munched on a pot noodles (so nutritious!) and then headed off to the bus stop at about 13:15. We still had quite a while to wait until the bus came but being all to familiar with the chaos of it arriving, we wanted to get there in time to get seats together. Unlike the past few days, the sky was a brilliant blue which made waiting a really pleasant experience and I watched as the seagulls circled high above. You can always rely on the gulls to entertain you, they seem to be absolutely everywhere! Not too long later, the bus arrived and after the initial panic of getting on board, I settled down and watched as the streets of Rotorua faded into the distance. It had been a lovely place to spend a few days but other than the thermal places, I’m not sure there’s too much to do there and so I was glad to be going somewhere new. I think we’re in the habit of moving about constantly now and rather than it being a pain, it’s really quite enjoyable. Good really as we’ve got quite a few places to cram into the next few weeks before we head back to Australia!
As we arrived in Taupo, the blue, glittering waters of the lake caught my attention and I couldn’t stop staring at it. It was absolutely huge and was just how I’d imaged it. Really quite beautiful. Just behind it sat huge mountains capped with snow and after reading a little bit about the place before we got there, I knew that the more peaked one of them was the one used as Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings. It was really cool to think that though I have to say, it would have perhaps been a little more impressive if there was red hot lava bursting out of the top if not a little bit more dangerous too! The bus continued along and parked up outside the iSite where we hopped off, fought our way through the crowds to get our bags and then went off to find our hostel. I’d booked for us to stay at the Tiki Lodge as I had thought we wouldn’t have too far to walk to reach it but when you’re quite sleepy and desperate to make the most of the only day you have there, the short walk seemed like a life time.
60 years later, or so it seemed, we walked into the hostel reception and paid for the room. We were in number 2 which was upstairs and so with my last ounce of energy, I dragged myself up the steps and into the room. Oh dear. The only beds available were top bunks and without guard rails which worried me quite a bit. I don’t like the thought of falling off in the night and had visions of waking up to find myself impaled on the sticking out ladder. I mean, I’ve not fallen out of a normal bed since I was little so why I seemed to think I would because it was a little bit higher I have no idea. Still, I wasn’t particularly happy and when I was unable to find my swimming costume top, I felt like I was going to erupt, let alone the volcanoes! Desperate to leave and make the most of the day and hopefully escape the mood I’d found myself in, we decided to walk to the natural hot pools, Otumuheke Stream in Taupo’s Spa Park, and relax there for a while and set off in the sunshine.
As we walked along I was amazed at how hot it seemed to have got all of a sudden and 50 minutes later, when we arrived, we were absolutely desperate for some refreshment. The walk just seemed to have gone on and on and on and so when we finally made it to the sparkling river, I could not wait to get in and enjoy the water. It was a lot busier than I’d expected it to be but being part of a river, it wasn’t an issue at all and after making sure we’d put our things where we could keep an eye on them at all times (there are lots of reports of thefts there), we waded in. My god it was hot! I’m not sure of the exact temperature but it was totally unbearable to me and I could not believe that there were people actually sitting under the waterfall where the hot stream water poured into the cool river water. It was mental. We ended up sitting in the shallow bit where the water was warm instead and I enjoyed watching a ridiculously happy dog running about splashing everybody. He just looked so pleased with himself chasing his own paws and I wondered how my dogs at home would cope with it all. I think JJ would have enjoyed it, Millie certainly would have done and my sister’s dog, Rosie Bear, would have ended up standing at the edge barking. It’s a shame that they won’t get to experience the thermal pools like that dog did but they’re dogs; I’m not sure they’d be that bothered! We stayed at the pools for half an hour or so until we released how hungry we were and began the long walk back. Codie’s flip flops decided to break, yep another pair, and he had to walk with bare feet the entire way. It didn’t seem too bad to me but when we made it back to the hostel, he discovered huge blister like things on the soles of his feet. It looked really quite gross though I was quite convinced it was just flaps of hard skin which had been worn off on the rough surface rather than actual burns. I hoped so anyway! It didn’t look very nice…
Once we’d had a little sit down and the Savelon had been slathered, it was time for us to pay a visit to the “Worlds Coolest Mcdonalds” down the road. There’s a decommissioned DC3 plane outside it which you’re able to eat in and being quite a plane fan (not as weird as it sounds…I hope!), it certainly sounded pretty cool. Optimistic that it would be the best thing ever, we ordered out Hunger Buster meal and headed out to the plane only to find a chain across the entrance. What was this madness? Why would they do this to us? It turned out that they closed it at 5pm and since it was after 7pm, we’d missed it by miles. I could feel the angry lava bubbling up again and when we sat down to eat, couldn’t believe how annoyed I was. I was raging. To be fair, I think it’s because it just seems to have been one thing after another recently rather than the fact I couldn’t go on a little plane. That would just have been mental. Not wanting to stay in McDonalds with all the noise and screaming children, I took the rest of my pie over to Lake Taupo where we sat and watched the sunset. It was really beautiful and even more spectacular watching it with such an incredible view of the mountains. So far, New Zealand has felt a lot like Scotland and so hasn’t quite been as breathtaking as I imagined it would be but there it was so much different and I loved it. I could quite happily have stayed there all night but with the sun now hiding behind the hills, it was starting to get a little bit nippy so we headed off back to our room.
When we got back to the hostel, we both had showers and climbed onto one of the top bunks which is where I am now. We’re leaving Taupo tomorrow to go to Wellington and I have to say, I’m really disappointed that we’re not getting to stay for very long. I think that’s one of the drawbacks of planning in advance, you just can’t tell what a place is like until you’ve been and sometimes that can work out well or quite badly. In this case it was a bit of a mistake not to stay another night as I’d have loved to spent more time by the lake but never mind, there’s always new things to see and they might just be even better.