Next stop on our New Zealand tour was Taupo. It was a short stop with just one full day.
Although located close to Rotorua, we made this a separate spot. We stayed at a wonderful motor lodge, Prince Motor Lodge that is used by Ironman crew for IM Taupo. And what a great location for a tri! Lake Taupo is Australasia’s largest lake (making it larger than some seas) and about the size of Singapore! The lake actually sits in a former volcano which erupted in 181 AD. The former volcanic activity created many geothermal areas with bubbling mud pools, steaming geysers, and craters.
We spent our day exploring Huka Falls, a thundering 11-metre high waterfall. The sheer volume of water flowing over the falls amounts to 220,000 litres per second (enough water to fill one Olympic sized swimming pool in 11 seconds)! Much to the kids’ dismay, we decided to hike to Huka Falls instead of driving to the observation deck. We started the trail at Spa Park in Taupo and headed towards Huka Falls. We hiked along the Waikato River until is turns into the Falls. The Waikato River is NZ’s longest river and is very wide in some areas (up to 100-metres wide); it then abruptly narrows to just 15 metres as it crosses a hard volcanic ledge north of Lake Taupo. This abrupt narrowing causes the large amount of water to funnel through the rocky gorge. The peaceful waters we had seen for the past hour suddenly started roaring and rumbling over Huka.
As we headed back to Spa Park, we took a dip in the Waikato River. We found a popular swimming spot full of “warm spots”. There were two waterfalls of near scalding water that warmed the area. It was an odd sensation to have one leg in icy cold water while with other was in hot water!
After refueling with lunch, we headed to Lake Taupo for another quick dip. Of course the water wasn’t any warmer than Waikato River but we found some warm geothermal spots. If you dig your feet into the sand and just waited…..your toes would get toasty warm!
Next, off to Napier to celebrate the New Year.