I’ve been talking up the Tongariro Alpine Crossing for a while, hoping and waiting for a perfect mix of weather and time to do it properly. The forecast and my location was finally right to give the Crossing a go on November 15th.
I’ll have a post up about it in a couple days (have hundreds of photos to sift through), but having finished over 20km of hiking today, I am thoroughly exhausted. That being said, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing more than lived up to it’s reputation as one of the best one day hikes in the world. Certainly, the best I’ve done in memory. Phenomenal.
The clouds rolled in today, but I’ve done most of what I wanted to here in Taupo anyways so I took it easy , only visiting the botanical gardens nearby to stretch my legs for an hour or two. Everyone likes pictures of flowers and bees, right? It’s right in the middle of spring right now so the flowers are quite colourful and the bees out en force.
One last day and then I’m on my way out of Taupo. I’ve got my fingers crossed that the weather forecasts hold – Tuesday I’m booked for the Tongariro Crossing (FINALLY), with a forecast of clear skies and warm winds until late in the afternoon, when the clouds return. All going well I should get some spectacular views during my walk.
Here are some random shots from the walk around the Botanical Gardens.
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.
Taupo’s most notable feature is the lake. It would be a shame to just see it from the shoreline, no?
I took a sailing trip aboard the Barbary, an 80+ year old sail boat that had just in the last year gone under a complete retrofit – including changing the old, noisy diesel motor to an electric. In other words the ship was silent running at all times, a pretty cool thing. We didn’t need the motor much anyways, the wind and weather was excellent all round.
One of the things I think I’ll be trying to do from now on is to hit the farmer’s market wherever I’m staying, on Saturdays or Sundays. Here in Taupo it falls on each Saturday, so I headed over in the morning.
Taupo’s wasn’t too big (not a ton of nearby farmland I suppose), but there were several options for fresh veggies or fruits. I also am keeping an eye out for a few last pieces I’d like to gather for myself while camping, such as pans, plates and utensils. I just want cheap stuff, I don’t want to pay much of anything for this stuff so it doesn’t have to be anything special. No such luck this weekend there, but I did find some tasty fruit.
While the major mountains of the North Island lie to the south of Lake Taupo, one large hill / small mountain makes it’s presence known near the town of Taupo, on the north edge of the lake. Mt. Tauhara.
Just outside the town boundaries of Taupo lies the region called ‘Craters of the Moon’. Taupo being a volcanic region, I was curious to see how this area looked. After paying my small ($6) fee, I ventured in to find a sea of green.
When I had heard ‘Craters of the Moon’, I had pictured a lunar landscape akin to what I found on the White Island, not mostly green and brown grasses/ferns and the like. Oh well, I had already started my walk, not like I wouldn’t finish it.