What a day!
No view of any Twin Peaks from our lakeside rooms, but Lake Taupo beckoned for us walkers and Ron, the runner. Like so much of what we’ve seen so far, the lake is the result of a volcanic eruption, so massive that it devastated much of the then uninhabited North Island. The Maoris arrived somewhere around the 13th century according to our guide yesterday. 46 km long and 33 km wide it is an impressive sight with civilisation creeping up its slopes on all sides. A well designed viewing platform along the lakeside path answered all our questions including its depth of 186 metres and elevation just a few metres lower than St Peter’s Pass. It is classified as ‘dormant’ not extinct and on our walk we passed warning signs for scalding water where steam was rising out of the lake; steam was also rising from the coffee van doing a steady business.
A black cat visited Christine as we prepared to depart.
Huka Falls was next on our itinerary; a narrow chasm where the Waikato river, NZ’s longest, is forced through before dropping dramatically. Ice blue. Brilliant white. Surging. Roaring. Uncontrollable. Mighty.
One of the walking tracks along the river can take you back to Taupo; we walked part way and commented on the absence of wild life, insect, animal or bird. Across the river we caught glimpses of Huka Lodge, an exclusive hotel hideaway (with a summer price tag of $8000 p/p per night), where Christine’s Uncle Fred was the Fishing Guide for many years.
After spending more than a penny we returned to Taupo and the Saturday Market. Although still early, Christine succumbed to a cream and lemon curd filled doughnut dusted with icing sugar, and Gary & I devoured a savoury brioche. Both fantastic!
But Ron needed to satisfy his hunger for Antique and Collectable shops and across the road (no small feat – plenty of ramps in the footpaths but no zebra crossings, pedestrian lights et al and four lanes of traffic to dodge) he found a Honing Stone. Much euphoria.
The morning coffee and mobile phone ritual followed, resulting in an unplanned return to the hotel where we’d left our passports amongst other things… It was now midday.
To Napier on the Eastern coast, a 2 hour drive with Gary at the wheel. Initially the landscape was all pine tree forest plantations or raped hills in preparation. Ron decided to snooze. The scenery changed. Lush and dense native vegetation up and down deep valleys. Awesome. The road was challenging with hairpin curves, few overtaking lanes or shoulders, and NZ drivers. Christine, in the back seat, had just about had enough, but after Gary had courageously overtaken a truck, she thought better of insisting he pulled over and we made it to Napier intact, with Ron now awake in time to see endless pine plantations.
We weren’t expecting what we found in Napier…
to be continued