Days 49 – 52: Taupo
So you may have already read about our fantastic trip to Orakei Korako or our rain-filled night camping in the Tongariro National Park, but the next stop on our Spaceships adventure was a few days in Taupo. One thing we learnt while staying there and exploring is the pronunciation of Taupo – we had always pronounced it quite differently, but the correct way is toe-paw. We watched a cool video at the Taupo museum about this, and I have actually found the video online (courtesy of http://www.indiefilm.co.nz) and posted it below:
I think it’s great and pretty funny! 🙂 The museum was one of the many things we did in the Taupo area. It only cost $5 to get in and was great value. I have included a few pics in my gallery below, but I enjoyed learning about the geographical history of the area and looking in the retro caravan.
We also visited the super famous Huka Falls – which is the most visited waterfall in the whole of NZ. You can see why, as it is really easy to access – no walk required like most other waterfalls – with a good sized car park and it pretty spectacular. A bridge over the falls provides excellent views both ways and there are a number of other viewpoints further along. It is a pretty powerful waterfall making a loud rushing noise and I read that up to 220,000 litres of water gush through the gorge every second! You can also take the walk from/to the centre of Taupo to the falls – which takes about 1 hour 30 mins. We didn’t actually do this as had our spaceship to get around, but it looked a nice walk.
The same day we visited Huka Falls we also visited the Aratiatia dam to see the opening of the dam gates. This takes place three times a day in winter – at 10am, 12pm and 2pm. We went to see it open at 2pm and took some photos. On advice, we took the decision to walk to the highest viewpoint to see this happen. You can alternatively see the opening from either on the bridge that crosses it, or a viewpoint lower down. We were quite far away where we were, but did get the see the water make its way all the way down the river, so it was good from that point of view. If we visisted again we would probably watch the opening from close up on the bridge and then quickly walk to the lower viewpoint to see the water pass through.
Whilst in Taupo our favourite place to eat was Dixie Brown’s, where we enjoyed a couple of meals – they did absolutely delicious milkshakes! And yummy pizza and chips. The service was usually really good too and they were always super busy which is a good sign – especially considering there are a lot of places to eat in Taupo.
We also enjoyed just spending time on the lake shores. It is a huge lake and is actually the largest lake in NZ and the largest freshwater lake in the whole of the Southern hemisphere – so it is pretty impressive! When we briefly visited Taupo on our honeymoon back in 2010 we took a helicopter trip up over Taupo and saw just how huge it is from above.
Another place we visited whilst in Taupo was Craters of the Moon where we did the geothermal walk. It is signposted on the road out of Taupo heading to Rotorua – about 5kms north (on Karapiti Road). We parked up and paid the $8 entrance fee, which we were happy to do. We also got chatting to a lovely fellow British woman who worked at the entrance kiosk, which was nice. We spent a good hour doing the loop walk and although not as spectactular as somewhere like Orakei Korako it was still full of steam and mud pools and we really enjoyed our time there.
Overall – we loved the four days that we spent in beautiful Taupo and really made the most of all it had to offer!