Lake Taupo was pegged on our list of top places, with lots of things to see and do, they recommend staying here a couple of days at least. On our list of things to do here was to visit the most photographed falls in New Zealand, to take a scenic boat cruise on the lake to see the ancient Maori rock carvings, and to do a walk alongside the bubbling mud at craters of the moon.
On the day we drove in we stopped at Huka Falls just a short jaunt from town (you can walk there if you wish), which is where the massive Lake Taupo drains into a narrow river creating an extremely powerful and intensely beautiful rush of water down a 11 meter drop. With sturdy fences on either side for good reason, one feels slightly safer when their wild energetic toddler grabs the rails and attempts to poke her head through the bars before running around across the bridge like a wild animal after nearly 3 hours commuting in the campervan. You can also take a jet boat tour right up to the bottom of the falls- but for me, no thank you!
If one has the energy and no activity limitations (for us short legged mini-humans), you can walk from the falls to the mud bubbles, but because of that and the pouring rain we opted to drive over. It was an hour walk around the geothermal area for about $8.00, and although we wanted to see it we felt it was overly ambitious to expect happiness times four after such a long day, inclement weather, and tired children, so we bailed on this adventure.
Day two in Lake Taupo gave us mid morning to wander around town (which was bigger than expected, with a wide array of shops… disappointingly though the lake front street was lined with fast food outlets like McDonalds, Burger king and KFC).
The scenic steamboat ride was two hours long, and ventured out to the ancient carvings in the rocks. Unfortunately that was really all their was to see on the journey, and the boat went really slow- perfect if you just want a sleepy little boat ride. That said, there wasn’t even enough boat chop or engine noise to keep the baby happy and mom had to work really really hard to get her short little nap on.
The “Top 10” campground we stayed at was perfect, with a toasty warm (32 degree) resort style pool complete with swim up bar and giant movie screen, which was super inviting and even more difficult to leave. We went as a family the first night, and then Ry and I went again for a little quality time in the morning while Zo slept. They also had a large playground, bike rentals, and two jumpy pillows as well, amongst other activities.
Tomorrow we’ll head to the east coast of the north island to the town of Napier. Ry is looking forward to seeing sharks and penguins at their infamous aquarium!