Where two next?

Antipodean travelogue through the eyes of two - one textile and one building lover. It'll be hard to differentiate the two!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Northbound Part 2 Hot Stuff

On our way to Lake Taupo we noticed a sign for Tokaanu Thermal Walk, and we decided to take full advantage of having a car and took a short detour.

To our surprise the Thermal walk was really interesting and as it would turn out, the best thermal walk we did in terms of getting up close and personal with the various hot water springs. The walk takes about twenty minutes and is free. Here's a few pics to give you an idea of what the route is like.

And here's a few of the hot water springs. The water is so hot the Maori cooked food in the springs. You cannot see the bubbles in the photographs but the water is actually boiling.

After the walk we availed of the Tokaanu Thermal Pools, there is one large public pool and about 15 private pools. We decided to give the private pools a go and it is well worth a try. Oh my God are they warm. The experience is akin to slowly getting into a very hot bath, except that the water doesn't get colder. You get 20 minutes in the pool for around $14 each and believe me you will not need any longer. We lasted about 15 minutes and that was after getting out for a little while. Our hearts were racing and our bodies tapped of all their energy by the time we got out. A few minutes later after a nice cold shower however and we were rejuvenated.

The next day saw us head out on part of the Thermal Explorer Touring Route, north of Lake Taupo, our next stop being the Craters of the Moon. It is a 45 minute walk and costs $5. The walk is actually free, but there is a charge for volunteers to watch your car while you are on the walk. Being a Pedantic Pat, I wanted to tell the lady at the kiosk that I didn't have a car and therefore assumed the entry was free, just to see her reaction. Alas, we did have a car and my neck is not quite thick enough in any event.

It was the least interesting of the three areas we visited and if you are short of time, my advice would be to give this one a miss. It is very different from the other two, having said that, and if you have the time and energy it is worth a quick visit. (Have I contradicted myself in the same paragraph? Too tired to care at this point).

Our last stop at the Orakei Korako Cave & Thermal Park, was the highlight for it's sheer diversity. You pull up adjacent to Lake Chakuri and get a boat across to the park after you have paid your entry fee. Here's a picture looking across the lake. (I couldn't decide which pic was better so here's both!)

Once you cross the lake you follow a boarded walkway to the many sights. Here's a few pics of the geysers and hot springs.

There's also some bubbling mud pools and interesting algae. The thing you cannot get an appreciation for is the smell of sulphur which is quite strong in places.

There was also some interesting flora along the walk too.

So that was how we spent our few days in Lake Taupo. Admittedly it had very little to do with the lake but, like Cairns in a way, Taupo is a gateway to greater things, even if it is a nice destination in it's own right.


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We interrupt this Australia broadcast to bring you the latest news from NZ.

As if we haven't been away enough lately, we decided to head North for the weekend. It's Autumn here and the clocks have gone back. (is that a collective snigger I hear?) Oh how the tide has turned.

As it happens the weather for March has been great so far. NZ has about six weeks less summer daylight saving time than many other countries, much to the irritation of most Kiwi's. So much so, that next year they are extending summer day light saving to bring it in line with most other countries. At the moment it is 24 degrees during the day and it is dark at 6.30 pm, not only that but it is bright in the mornings at about 7.00 am! So it's early to bed and early to rise to make the most, of the last, of the good weather.

But any way back to our trip North. As the weather forecast for the weekend was excellent and the winter is fast approaching ( snigger away) we decided to head to Lake Taupo, approximately 5 hours North of Wellington. Below is the only pic we took. If you want to see more click here.

We managed to come across this great web site which outlines the Kiwi's top 101 things to see and do in NZ. We decided to do, although unlucky for some, number 13. If you are wondering what all the fuss is about when it comes to NZ I suggest you check out the top 20 places to go on the AA website. It's pretty self explanatory after that!

We left early Friday afternoon, and decided to stop off and spend Friday night about half way along our journey. The place in question was called Wanganui, a pretty town on the banks of the Wanganui river, and not a bad place for a stop over. The accommodation is the ubiquitous NZ motels, which are completely uninspiring, or the local Grand Hotel which is "lost in time" and very basic. (Yes we stayed there, and it is almost worth a visit for the bright red carpet that lines the walls of the lift.)

We got up early next morning, in part because the sun was streaming through the paper mache curtains in our room, but also because we were excited about traveling on the Desert Road to Lake Taupo. The desert road is quite often closed, in fact when we traveled down from Auckland to Welly last December it was, so we were hoping that it wouldn't happen again. As the pic below shows we were in luck this time.

The road passes through, Tongariro National Park which is home to three active volcanoes, Mt. Tongariro, Mt. Ngauruhoe and Mt. Ruapehu (they just roll off the tongue!). On the desert road you pass all three. Here are some pics.

Here are a few more images taken along the desert road. You can see why it gets it's name.

On our trip from Wanganui to Lake Taupo we passed some lookouts which are always worth a stop in such a beautiful country. (See the pics below) The first pic is a typical mountain range you come across everywhere in the North Island.

We stopped off in one of the many thermal parks along the way too, but you will have to wait for the next post to find out more about that and why they call part of the route north, the Thermal Explorer Touring Route. I can assure you it's hot stuff!


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