The mighty Waikato River

From the north end of Lake Taupo the longest river in New Zealand, the Waikato River, flows northward towards Auckland and the ocean. It sees a huge amount of water move – creating the Huka Falls not far from town, but also making for an enjoyable walk to get there.

I think that is one of the things I enjoy about Taupo – everything you want is accessible without a car. Want to visit Huka falls? It’s about 1.5 hours from the downtown by foot. Want to go bungy jumping? It’s on that same path. Walk along the lake? Lots of great paths to choose there. Camping? Less than an hour walk to the downtown/bus station. That isn’t to say I haven’t gotten good use from my car still, driving it to the campground at least, but most days I drive downtown, park it, and don’t return until lunch time to grab food, or some days, until the evening to head back to camping. Taupo has quickly become one of my favourite spots in New Zealand so far.

Today found me walking along the Waikato out to the Huka Falls and back. After 20 minutes of walking I found myself looking upon these cliffs.

Closer inspection (and hearing screaming every few minutes), and I discovered that this is the bungy jumping spot for Taupo! If you look closely you can make out someone just about to touch the water.

Something I want to try, but I’m holding off on this one. Queenstown is THE place to bungy jump apparently, so I’ll just wait until I’m there. Still, even this smaller jump looked plenty intimidating. Lots of fun watching other people toss themselves off the edge of the platform though.

The thing I really enjoyed about walking along the Waikato is that the colour looks so surreal at times. The river runs pretty deep, but the water is *clear*. Crystal clear. It doesn’t show well in pictures, but walking along the river bank you can always see right to the bottom, unless darkness swallows the light before the bottom is found.

After the bungy area I came across a Thermal park. Beautiful rolling green hills led down to the river once again.

Shortly after a decent ascent, a clearing in the trees allowed me to view the river…and my campground (called Reid’s Farm)!

Looking pretty quiet and clean right now, most people take off for the day and return in the evening (myself included). I’ve had a different spot every night, but I generally enjoy the area up top more than close to the river – less mosqitoes.

About 20 minutes after that the rapids began.

I had made my destination, Huka Falls.

Having a simple lunch of tuna sandwich and apple, I relaxed for a bit before heading back towards town. This time I stopped at the thermal spa area and investigated one of the streams.

Sure enough, the water was hot. Not scalding, but enjoyable bath temperature hot. If in need for a free shower…

And on the way back I snapped a panorama of the Waikato as it runs through the bungy area. Came out pretty fish-eyed this time, oh well! Great walk on another sunny day here in Taupo.

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