Travelling around the central part of the North Island means two things, waterfalls and culture over load. Both of which I am more than happy with.
Lake Taupo is a holiday hot spot for both the tourists and kiwis alike. This crystal blue lake is the perfect location to explore your entire water sport quota for the year. From white water rafting to a calm kayak across the lake there is something for everyone. If the taking part in the sports isn’t for you then there is even boat trips that you can jump on to explore all that the lake has to offer. Whilst the lake is the main attraction I would strongly suggest looking at what is around Taupo as well while you are there. We went to see the Huka Falls and they were quite something. The water the rushes through the waterfall each minuet contains enough water to fill four Olympic sized swimming pools. Along side with the incredibly bright colouration of the water, this waterfall is one not to be missed.
During our time at Lake Taupo it rained pretty much all the time that we were there. So we didn’t head out to the Maori rock carvings in the centre of the lake that were made in the 1970s. Although the original plan was to rent some kayaks and head across to have a look at the rocks up close and personally. Perhaps we will be able to head back later on in our trip in order to experience the ‘real’ lake experience with the sun shining rather than the heavens opening on us.
We will have to try to go and take a look at lake Taupo when it is on better form.
Tongariro National park & Alpine Crossing
Length: 6-8 hours
Terrain: Intermediate walking ability, clear track & lots of people around
The hike itself isn’t too bad, although we went the weekend after the ski slopes closed so there was snow still on the ground. Cold was the word of the day. We managed it fine though even if our hands felt like they could have fallen off at any given moment. Gloves would have been the single best investment of the day – note to future self. There are lots of beautiful things around you as you go on the 6 ↠ 8 hour walk across the alpine pass. To begin it is a really lovely view of Mt Ngauruhoe (Mt Doom) that is what you would describe as a perfect volcano. The sides appear to be symmetrical and see you see the old lava flows from the track.
In the distance on a really clear day, which is was to begin with, we were able to see the very top of Mt Taranaki to the west of the national park. The easy walking path way at the start however gives way to a more difficult terrain that lead almost straight upwards in a train of foot traffic started to appear as a result of the sudden increase of altitude towards the red crater. There are two craters that you have to reach in order to make it to the pass and then preceded towards the lakes. On the way upwards we found that a great cloud of mist was stalking us. At one point I was concerned that we wouldn’t be able to see if it caught up to us, we needn’t have worried however as soon as we reach the red crater there mist lifted and we were just left to the wind.
Pushing up further over the lip of the craters rim we could finally see the start of the emerald lakes below us, and the blue lagoon in the distance. Although we were rather cold on the rim as the wind was whipping up a frenzy we stopped and took in the most incredible views before deciding that heading down might make the wind less aggressive at our faces. At the lakes although they were beautiful, the smell of sulphur was back in the air again putting me off my packed lunch completely so we decided not to stop here like so many other for lunch.
Continuing up to the second rim of the crater to find a spot by the blue lagoon for our lunch. It was incredible what with a small amount of sunshine on the surface of the water could achieve. The water didn’t look particularly blue when we got there initially but as we had our lunches (pasta salads), the sun made an appearance and we saw the lake go from a grey hue to a royal blue in seconds. Incredible. The walk back down off the pass was long and no longer strenuous as it had been in other parts.
Over all I would say that everyone who head over to New Zealand would be both capable of doing this hike at their own pace and would really enjoy the scenic views that you will earn in order to reach the first crater rim. Well worth the wait ↠ even if you haven’t already seen the scenery on the silver screen.