Nice drive down from Waihi Beach to Taupo. Stopped to take in the delights of Lakes Okareka and Rotokawa â€“ a couple of the smaller lakes between Lake Rotorua and Lakes Tikitapu (Blue Lake) and Rotokakahi (Green Lake) lying side by side. Then continued up the road to the huge Lake Tarawera.
The landscape around the lakes is thick with beautiful native bush â€“ tons of ferns covering the hillsides. We had a picnic lunch by Lake Tarawera near The Landing.
Then drove back up the road a short way to experience the bush, walking a section of the Tarawera Trail back towards The Landing. The first part of the trail took us through tall Totara grasses. As we continued, the track wound down through the bush, the drop getting sheerer, with the track opening out into stunning views across the canopy. Sections of the trail were a bit steep but as usual in New Zealand, the effort was well rewarded.
After our stops we eventually we arrived at the lovely Taupo De Bretts Spa Resort where we had a couple of nights break from the van, decanting into a cabin for a couple of days over New Year. Gotta say we only just about managed to stay awake to see 2017 in, and didnâ€™t make it into town for the fireworks. Spent the next couple of nights back in the bosom of the camper van.
I stayed at this site several years back. Seems to have expanded and still lovely. It’s well laid out so pitches feel fairly private. Not too far to stroll into town and far enough away from the hustle and bustle.
Over the course of our break in Taupo we did lots of good stuffâ€¦
â€¦ Strolled along the lake front into town, watching folk enjoying a free spa and countless other activities on the waterâ€¦
â€¦ Took a walk along the magnificent Waikato River from the start of Spa Road in Taupo town centre. Kayakers paddling along serene sections of the river with thrill seekers bungy jumping or swinging overhead from a great height…
We continued our walk â€™til we got to the geothermal park. At which point the gentle drizzle that had started turned to full on pissing rain. Not so great anymore â€“ although we were still able to appreciate the beauty of the park with its plumes of steam rising from the ground. Our original intention was to walk along the Huka Falls Track to the Falls. The track allegedly started on Spa Road. Little did we know how long Spa Road actually is â€“ weâ€™d been walking for well over an hour by this point with no sign of the track start. Bedraggled and wet, we turned back and headed for town, mission unaccomplished. As it turned out, this was our second error of the day â€“ our first â€“ turning up at the harbour in town for our booked Huka Falls River Cruise which actually started by the Aratiatia Dam, some 15 mins drive from town! We woulda had a helluva lot more walking to do to get to the Falls.
All was not lost however. We were able to rebook the cruise for another day, and instead spent an interesting hour or so at the small but mighty excellent Taupo museum before setting out on our quest to the Falls.
Further consolation once we arrived back in town after our soaking was an absolutely delicious, very reasonably priced meal at the most excellent Taupo Thai on Roberts Street. Result!
â€¦ That visit to the awesomely powerful Huka Falls, that river cruise, and a walk along a section of the Huka Falls track (from the Falls end) did happen â€“ all fantasticâ€¦
Topped off the day with fabulous sesh in a private Spa at De Bretts â€“ with the discount for guests it would have been churlish not to. It was a great way to recover from the previous daysâ€™ dousing in the rain, and a superb ending to our stay in Taupo.
One of the many other things weâ€™ve enjoyed about our stay in was the public safety radio ads encouraging folk to stay safe on the water â€œâ€¦donâ€™t be a dick, donâ€™t be a dick, a beer belly is not a flotation deviceâ€¦ donâ€™t be a dick, donâ€™t be a dick, a broken back is no funâ€¦â€ set to a catchy tune.
Off to Whanganui tomorrowâ€¦