Along the Away

travel, dream, create, inspire, appreciate

Leaving Rotorua involved a few stops along the way to appreciate the Wai-O-Tapu (Maori for sacred waters), an active geothermal area located in the Taupo Volcanic Zone.

We stopped off to look at the Mud Pool, a vast gurgling swamp of mud. Deeeelightful! It really stank, but there was something mesmerising watching the bubbles popping up to the surface with a loud belch and mud spurting into the air and plopping back down leaving circular rings across the surface of the pool.

2014 New Zealand (2292)

We also stopped by a pebble beach that I don’t recall the name of. There was a lonely looking wharf there and the glassy surface of Lake Rotorua begging for pebbles to be skipped across. And look so many pebbles within reach!

Lake Rotorua

Lake Rotorua

Lake Taupo

We travelled on in the bus towards Taupo, which boasts New Zealand’s largest lake. Before hopping the bus I snapped this pic of the misty morning. Ahh the mysteries of the road, you never know what will happen next.

Leaving Rotorua

We stopped at the majestic Huka Falls on the Waikato River, New Zealand’s longest, where the water is a vibrant blue-green colour under all the white water.

2014 New Zealand (2297)

Starting at the falls we did a one hour hike, following a track to the Spa Park walking along the bank of the river the whole way. The river changed form right before our eyes as we went, from the thundering falls where the water gushes down an eleven metre drop (220,000 litres a second) to a wide, meandering river winding its way lazily through the forest.

2014 New Zealand (2301)

The Spa Park at the end features hot pools that feed warm water into the river. I thought the outside temperature was too cold to deal with being wet (what a wuss, I wish I had now) so I just popped my feet in – lovely!!

2014 New Zealand (2304)

Beautiful Lake Taupo was not hard to miss – it is New Zealand’s biggest! It’s up to 188m deep in places, 100m deep on average, and contains 60 cubic kilometres of water – enough water to cover the whole North Island with a half metre depth of water.

The sky cleared up to a brilliant blue by the time we arrived, though it was still pretty chilly. I still enjoyed a half hour walking along the edge in the sunshine.

Lake Taupo

I walked around the few blocks of Taupo, had a breakfast-lunch, and wandered through a park to the Taupo Museum. The entry fee was only about $5, and I went in more or less to spend an hour until the bus left to continue on to Tongariro National Park. I’m so glad I did – the cultural and historical exhibits were really interesting. There is a carved Maori Meeting House dating from 1927 and lots of history about Tuwharetoa, the local Maori tribe.

Lake Taupo Totem

There was a lot of info about New Zealand’s volcanic history which I found really fascinating. Lake Taupo is actually a volcano – strange to believe as it’s also a lake, formed in the ‘caldera’ volcano – one of the best examples of a caldera in the world. It’s located at the heart of the Taupo Volcanic Zone which is home to most of New Zealand’s volcanoes and geothermal features. According to Wikipedia:

This huge volcano has produced two of the world’s most violent eruptions in geologically recent times.”

In other words, it is a crazy-real volcano. Though, the reference to recent times actually refers to 26,500 and 1,800 years ago, so not super-crazy-recent.

The museum had lots of old media coverage from eye witnesses that have experienced earthquakes caused by the plates under Lake Taupo, I found it absolutely fascinating – I took a photo of this old article:

Lake Taupo Museum Newspaper

There is also an interesting article written by the New Zealand Herald, Taupo volcano: what its past unrest can tell us.

And that’s all for Lake Taupo! On we go to Tongariro National Park for an attempt at a ‘Great Walk’.

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A traveler, dreamer, designer and optimist sharing all of the above.

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