Native bush surrounding Lake


Nice drive down from Waihi Beach to Taupo. Stopped to take in the delights of Lakes Okareka and Rotokawa – 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 – tons of ferns covering the hillsides. We had a picnic lunch by Lake Tarawera near The Landing.

Native bush surrounding Lake

Lake Tarawera, boats and trees

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.

Carved sign marking start of Tarawera Trail

Totara grasses on the Tarawera Trail

Forest canopy Tarawera Trail

Curled up fern frond

Directional sign on Tarawera Trail

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 didn’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 stuff…

… Strolled along the lake front into town, watching folk enjoying a free spa and countless other activities on the water…

Sign warning of scalding water, people on lakeside enjoying a hot spa Lake Taupo

Steam rising from hot vent rising from beach, Lake Taupo

… 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…

Cliffs and river

Bungy jumper over Waikato River, Taupo

We continued our walk ’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 – 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 – we’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 – our first – 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.

Mock up of a Maori meeting house, Taupo Museum

Marae, Taupo Museum


50's era caravan, Taupo Museum

50’s Caravan, Taupo Museum


Inside 50's era caravan, Taupo Museum

Inside the caravan, Taupo Museum

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!

… 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 – all fantastic…

Power station near Huka Falls

River boat cruise at Huka Falls

Powerful waterfall

Powerful river at Huka Falls

Calm Waikato river and native bush

Topped off the day with fabulous sesh in a private Spa at De Bretts – with the discount for guests it would have been churlish not to. It was a great way to recover from the previous days’ dousing in the rain, and a superb ending to our stay in Taupo.

One of the many other things we’ve enjoyed about our stay in was the public safety radio ads encouraging folk to stay safe on the water “…don’t be a dick, don’t be a dick, a beer belly is not a flotation device… don’t be a dick, don’t be a dick, a broken back is no fun…” set to a catchy tune.

Off to Whanganui tomorrow…

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