Lake Taupo, Waikato, New Zealand

There is something about the sound of rain, beating heavily down on the windows and roof, whilst you are tucked up in the warmth of bed.

That is until you have to get up, and realise that your whole body feels like you’ve done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson.

I arrived in Taupo two days prior, predominantly to walk the Tongariro Crossing, and had no real plans for my remaining time there, but I’m not one to stay in bed, or lounge around for too long.

I had previously been to Taupo, in 2011 to complete a skydive, and saw most of Taupo from the sky, which was fantastic, but had little time to see the town itself. I do remember a nice coffee shop, overlooking the Lake, and that’s about it.

Taupo reminds me a lot of Queenstown or Wanaka, (although less busy and chaotic than Queenstown) – a lakeside town, which is small and heavily catered to the droves of tourists that flock there on their tour of New Zealand.

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There a number of outdoor shops, selling tramping (hiking) gear. My only assumption about this is that Taupo is used as a good base to walk in Tongariro National Park.

Although quite sore, I consulted the hostel guide area on what you could do in Taupo on a rainy day, and found a guide specifically for this purpose (it must rain in Taupo often!).

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After breakfast, I donned my light rain jacket, and braved the elements. It had actually calmed down a wee bit, and really was only light rain.

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I took a stroll around part of the Lake, although wet, there were many people out and about. The Lake really does live up to its name of ‘Great Lake’. It just seems to go on forever.

The first stop on my rainy day stroll was the Museum … costing a mere $5 for an entry, this was a great respite from the weather. The Museum is located close to the iSite (information centre), in though a small park and gardens.

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The museum is unlike any, I’ve been to. It had a small art gallery, a replica of a Marae (pronounced Marr-eye) a Māori meeting house, as well as a cultural garden, and replica’s of scenes from 1970s New Zealand. I spent a good hour walking around. The staff were quite helpful, and seemed pleased that a young person would want to visit.

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I later returned to my hostel to pick up my swim gear, as I had planned to go to the local swimming baths, which had hot thermal pools – perfect for my aching legs. However, on my way there, I stumble upon Spa Thermal Park, which lies alongside the Waikato River.

The walk to the thermal pools took approximately 15 minutes. I arrive, and I’m surprised to see how busy it is. Its clearly a real local favourite.

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I was considering continuing walking along the path toward Huka Falls, which would have taken me about an hour, but I was lured in by the natural steam and warmth, radiating from the stream.

 

With no changing areas around, I walked further around the path, slightly shaded by the trees, and stripped off to change into my swimming gear, then I was in.

A large wooden sign attached to the fence, warned those using the pools to watch their belongings. I stashed most of my things in my small rucksack and kept it on a nearby rock.

I spent the next hour or so lying amongst the rocks, in the warm water, and sitting in natural waterfalls. It was magical.

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For the remainder of my time in Taupo, I ventured into town for some dinner, and discovered the amazing Burger Fuel chain, which probably overtakes my love of Burgers and Beers and Queenstown’s Fergburger.

My time in Taupo was slightly short, but beautiful all the same. Plenty of exercise and reminiscing from my first visit to New Zealand.

Taupo is definitely worth a visit, if you’re in the area.

 

 

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