Sunday, 10 January 2016

NZ: Taupo

I arrived in Taupo mid afternoon and made a friend immediately (I am getting quite proud of my friend count now, though I am not sure you can technically call them friends when they're fleeting).  A lady called Sonia was going to the same hostel as me so I offered to direct her as she was a bit lost, and we decided to go get lunch and go for a walk together in the afternoon.

Lunch consisted of a McDonalds (I know, I know...but they do $5 meals here which is £2.30 at the current rate today...such a bargain! I almost wish I hadn't discovered it as I know now where I will be eating mostly....Dominoes and Pizza HUt also do $5 normal sized pizza....) and then we did a long walk to Huka Falls.  On the way there we went past the Taupo Bungee, and I could literally spend all day watching people going off the ledge, it's really quite fascinating.

Huka Falls is pretty amazing - it's not a huge waterfall by any means, in fact it's not even really a fall, more of a rapid, but the water is just exquisite - the colours range from varying shades of green and blue and white and it's mesmerising to watch it. In fact the colour of the water along the whole Waikato River is beautiful.  The good news is the torrent at the falls is so fierce (it can fill 5 olympic sized pools in a second) that no migratory fish can get up it, so there are no eels in Lake Taupo. Wahoo!  On the walk back we stopped at the spa thermal park, which is basically a little waterfall that has boiling hot water in it, but mixes with the cold river water to create pockets of warmth, so everyone chills out there.

We went to the shop to buy provisions, I am fully embracing the hostel life by cooking and eating lots of pasta. I expect I will get bored soon so if anyone has any cheap, quick, simple meal options that can be made using just a hob then drop them below!!

My hostel is a bit weird, there's a separate house that's turned into a hostel and I am staying in that section away from the riffraff, but having spent Day 2 of Taupo with the riffraff in the common room (it was raining and miserable) they're all 17-21 so I am glad I am where I am....I also chose the hostel solely on the bunkbeds - they're purpose built wooden cabins with curtains over them and they're great! So much privacy.  BUT this also means people take advantage of the privacy, and two nights in a row I had this German couple copulating in their bed next to me. So disgusting!!!   Mind you I think one night I farted so loud in my sleep I woke myself up, so hopefully I woke them up too....

On Taupo day 3 we woke early (5.40am to be precise.....urgh but I am on holiday!) to do the Tongariro crossing.  It had been cancelled the day before due to poor weather, and they weren't sure if they would be running the shuttles today either, however the weather turned out absolutely beautiful and we were very very lucky considering the day we had before.

The walk is pretty amazing - very varied landscapes.  You start off nice and easy, along a board walk that takes you to the base of the ridge, then you climb the Devil's Staircase (this makes it sound so much harder than it is, it's just lots of stairs and hills and stairs so you get a bit out of breath but nothing unmanageable).  After that is the proper scary bit - we had very strong winds, and you have to walk up a ridge that's about 10m wide with slopes either side.  The wind was incredible, I have never experienced anything like it, and the leaflet you're given says that you may feel safer crawling up the ridge - I didn't want to look silly as no one else was doing it so I braved it and managed to make it to the top with no incident, though inside I was pooping my pants. Figuratively.

Mount Doom!

The gormless look on my face at the beginning was my attempt at capturing the wind making my lips flap, but it didn't work, haha....

I call this "The Devil's Vagina"

The moon!

At the top you get brilliant views but I didn't really stop to take them all in as it was just too windy, thankfully on the other side the wind had died down making for a much simpler (but slippier) descent, down a steep scree path.  I found the best way down was to dig my  heels as hard as possible into the sand like substance, and half slipped half trudged to the bottom, stopping in awe at the view before and around me - it is how I imagine being on the moon (or actually just another planet) would be.  Huge brown and red mountains and rocks in all sorts of formations, punctuated with emerald green and bright blue lakes.  It's truly astonishing.

This photo above shows the angle we had to walk down, and the photo below shows what we were descending

Looking back on Mount Doom.

We had our lunch by the blue lake and carried on our journey, and suddenly as we turned a corner the landscape changed from moonscape to 'normal' mountain scenery and I felt like I could have been in Scotland or Wales, it was pretty cool how suddenly it changed.

Grey water!

The rest of the walk was an easy but very long descent down loads of switchbacks, which are frustrating as you can see the end in the distance but you can also see thousands and thousands of miles of pathway to tackle beforehand!!

We made it back in one piece and sat in the hostel garden reading books then had a soak in the hot tub, a wander down to the lake to watch the sunset and an early night.

Yesterday I waved goodbye to Sonia and hired a bike from the hostel to check out some more of the area.  I started with the botanical gardens but these were a massive disappointment and I didn't take any photos.  Then I cycled round a bit of the lake, which is HUMUNGOUS and more like the sea, it had huge waves on it.

Then I started to feel really sleepy having been kept up from the shagging couple and drained of energy so I cycled home and had a wee nap before heading out again for a sailing trip to see some Maori carvings on a cliff face.

When I had booked the trip earlier in the day, the guy had just told me it was a pleasant boat trip and there is only capacity for 19 on the boat which means it won't be busy.  What he hadn't told me was that it was a sailing boat and it was very windy which meant that it was a bit of a white knuckle ride, with the boat leaning so much on my side that the safety rails were in the water and our legs got soaked.  However I also didn't know I was going to get free beer and pizza, so swings and roundabouts I guess.   The carvings were slightly disappointing as turns out they were carved in 1978 so hardly ancient, but the boat ride was exciting (if a little bit scary at times), the skipper amusing and full of stories, and I got free pizza and beer, so nothing to complain about really.  On the way back the wind had died down so we had a gentle ride back which was very relaxing.

I spent the evening by the lake side, reading a book until the sun set, and now I am waiting for my bus to Wellington!

1 comment:

  1. "Devil's vagina" - gross, but very true - having said that I always thought of the devil as male?


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