Day 48: Tawhai Falls and Mangahuia DOC Camping Ground
Today we took the long drive on the next step of our Spaceships adventure from Napier, past Taupo, towards Tongariro National Park. Last time we were in New Zealand for our honeymoon back in 2010 we spent time in this area hoping to spot the spectacular Mount Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom LOTR fans!) but were unlucky with the weather back then. Unfortunately we were unlucky again with the weather and didn’t manage to spot the elusive Mount Doom! Despite the poor weather we wanted to go back to one of our favourite NZ waterfalls – Tawhai falls – which is Gollum’s waterfall from LOTR. We parked up and headed down to see the waterfall which was just as lovely as we remembered.
Next stop was the Whakapapa visitor centre to get warm, where we spent time looking at their fantastic displays about the area. I was particularly interested in the natural disasters information – especially about the recent eruptions in the area. We also used the ‘flushing loo’ for the last time before heading off to our campsite. We arrived at the Mangahuia DOC camping ground, paid our fees ($6 each) chose our spot – in a nice little corner by the river and close enough to the loo. We liked this campsite, as all the pitches for campervans were separate and had trees and vegetation separating them, so you felt cosy and private. One thing we didn’t like was the smelly toilet! As with many of the DOC campsites it was a long drop, but this was definitely the smelliest we had come across! It might have been because despite being quite remote this camp ground was quite popular so lots of people were using it. By this point the heavy rain started and didn’t give up and was torrential all night!! We had chosen quite a sheltered spot for our spaceship and were glad of this, because the rain was so heavy it was pouring through the trees and making a really loud noise on our roof and this would have been even louder without some shelter! We were also glad to be near the loos, as we still got soaked dashing to the toilet in our waterproofs but watched as people got soaked right through coming from sites further away. Oh the joys of camping! So it was quite a sleepless night, with the loud rain on Draco’s roof – but a real adventure nonetheless 🙂 For more info on our lovely spaceship check out the Spaceships website and the Beta 2 Berth model which we hired. When we awoke in the morning there was flooding all around our spaceship, so we took a quick trip to the now unbearably smelly toilet, brushed our teeth and were on the road again heading to Taupo, Unfortunately due to the heavy rain Mount Doom eluded us yet again, but this is just one more reason we will have to return in future!