Fishing Country (and volcanoes)

Taupo Travel Blog

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Mount Ruapehu from the Desert Road.

Our first stop after leaving Bron was Lake Taupo, NZ's premier fly-fishing location (according to Melissa's dad and many other anglers!).  We drove up thruogh Levin, Foxton, Bulls (where everything ends or starts in "bull" eg: "Submersi-bull" for the local Subway shop) and Turangi to Taupo.

Silica Terraces at Orakei Korako.
  We stopped along the Desert Road for a photo of Mt Ruapehu, NZ's tallest mountain and still an active volcano (last eruption was in 1995/96) - still snow-capped in February, so quite impressive.  The whole area along the Desert Road is quite like the plains of the Scottish Highlands in appearance, lots of heather-like shrubs, quite interesting.  Most of the area is also part of a defence force base as well, so lots of signs saying don't leave the road and beware of ammunition - most reassuring!  We had a bit of trouble finding accommodation in Taupo, all the backpackers say you need to book well ahead.  In the end we went to theTaupo Holiday Park, part of the Kiwi Holiday Parks chain.  We have discovered kitchen cabins - no en-suite but you have your own kitchenette, TV etc., and the prices are better than the backpackers!  They're generally fairly central but having the car is handy. 

When we arrived we had a wander around the shops of Taupo, not much different to anywhere else, our real sight-seeing started the next day.

Maori carved gate, overlooking Lake Taupo
  We went out early to the "Craters of the Moon Geothermal Park" ($5pp).  It was only about 8.30am when we got there, so the light was beautiful, but quite smelly (the lovely sulphur smell of geothermal parks!).  You can walk around the park fairly easily, there is a steeper option for a better view, but it's your choice - we took it and were rewarded with a great vista across Taupo.  We then drove on to Orakei Korako Cave and Thermal Park.  You park in the basin of a few mountains and then get a little boat across to the actual park (included in the entry fee of $26 each).  The first thing you see is what looks like a lava flow from the hill into the lake, but which is actually a silica terrace which goes 30m into thelake.  You walk across the top of it and around the park throughout various small geysers and mud pools.  The area is quite lovely and the walk is pretty easy (although a bit up and down at times).  There is a thermal cave here, apparently extremely rare.  it's a steep walk down and because it was quite dark and hard to see, we didn't really think it was worth the trip back up to the top!

Headed back to Taupo via various art galleries (Lava Glass was nice) and Huka Falls, which are formed through the funnelling of the water into a smaller area for hydro-electric generation.  The main excitement of this was watching the fireman climb over the edge of the falls in full rescue apparatus to retrieve a lady's purse which had gone over the edge - good practice for them!  Also visited the Volcano Activity Centre ($8 pp) which gave us a good understanding of volcano and earthquake activity in NZ - we didn't realise there was still so much going on, which would make living in Taupo and bit of a concern!

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Mount Ruapehu from the Desert Road.
Mount Ruapehu from the Desert Road.
Silica Terraces at Orakei Korako.
Silica Terraces at Orakei Korako.
Maori carved gate, overlooking Lak…
Maori carved gate, overlooking La…
photo by: carpefunk