With the lake and the snow covered peaks of Tongariro National Park in the background, Taupo (correctly pronounced toe-paw) is incredibly beautiful. The Waikato river (the longest in New Zealand) originates from Lake Taupo, which is a whopping 266sq-km. it’s no surprise that holiday homes surround the lake, but as we weren’t in any school holidays and summer hadn’t quite kicked off, Taupo wasn’t too busy.
We drove south from Rotorua to Taupo and checked in to the same hostel as Melanie, Rob, Dan and Owen. Melanie introduced us to her Australian friend Julia, and with that a powerful pub quiz team was born (with the unbeatable name of Quiz-team-a Aguilera). On our first evening in Taupo we headed into the town and entered a quiz at the local Irish pub. We came joint first, which I thought was pretty impressive, and in order to decide the winner, Dan was made to down a pint along with a member of the other winning team. Unfortunately he wasn’t as fast, but I can’t hold that against him, I’d have been rubbish. I still told the people back at the hostel that we’d come first though.
The following day Rob, Dan and Owen left to do the Tongariro Crossing, a three day walk in the Togariro National Park (which we’d love to do too), so the three of us plus Julia and Melanie went on a nice walk in the sun, ending at the Spa Park hot springs. We stripped down to our swimmers, slathered on the sun cream and then lowered ourselves into the uncomfortably hot water. It took a while to get used to, and every time we moved it felt a bit burny, but it did get more and more pleasant. We didn’t spend long in the hot water, however, and shortly afterwards we waded out to where the water was cooler.
If you continue down the path past the hot springs, walking further along the Waikato river, it leads you to Huka Falls. The bright blue water of the river dramatically drops 10 meters into a frothy pool, where people frequently get into small jetboats to be hurled around. We went for a much more sedate option though and just had a picnic nearby, with the rushing of the water in the background. It was a nice walk out of the town and a nice way to spend a sunny day with our new pals.
The next day Julia and Melanie headed to the Tongariro national park to do the one day Alpine crossing, and we hired bikes and cycled around part of the huge lake Taupo. We took the Great Lake Walkway South around the lake, an easy and flat cycle (about 20km there and back), with plenty of beautiful spots to stop for a break and a bite.
Taupo was a very picturesque place to visit, and we had a great time hanging out with our new friends. The sun was shining in the town, but due to questionable weather up in the mountains, we didn’t get to do the Tongariro crossing, supposedly a must do in the whole of New Zealand. Before we leave, we will definitely have to tick that one off our list.