by sam on 19th December 2014 4 comments
Might have guessed we had no useful wifi where we've been staying, and are now currently "freedom" camping in a glorified lay by right on the edge on Great Lake Taupo. We have drinking water on tap, and clean public toilets and the rest is up to Betsy to provide, but it's free, peaceful and beautiful, especially now the sun has decided to pay us a little visit!
Kids at Aratiatia rapids
For the last couple of days we have based ourselves at a bit of a family resort campsite, Taupo de Bretts. It had a lovely geothermal waterpark for the kids, even in the rain and wind it was lovely and warm, and was close to loads of stuff to see.
We had to cancel our plans to go North to the Bay of Islands due to awful coastal weather, sailing was going to be hideous, and it was a long way to go, so we have had an extra 2 days seeing the Waikato area sights.
We have been to see the Aratiatia Rapids, where an enormous dam opens it's gates, every two hours, over a huge rocky canyon to produce the most stunning turquoise show, but primarily to produce hydroelectricity. I don't know how deep the water was, but it completely drowns the canyon for half an hour, then drains again half hour later when the gates close again, it's astounding to watch... 90,000 litres per second rush out of the gates, and the reservoir doesn't even look like it drops a centimetre!
Devils bath geothermal pool
This area is supposedly the most geologically active part of NZ, and the area is full of geothermal hotspots, a large selection are at Wai o tapu. There were 25 different geothermal pools/hotspots of all different colours from pure white, to bright turquoise to neon yellow due to the different elements present. They looked supernatural, and smelt pretty similar too! Frey wasn't a fan of the eggy sulphur stink! The bubbling mud pools were hilarious to listen to though as they bubble and spurt.
Cable car up the mountain
We also went to Rotarua, about 50 km away to try out the skyline- a cable car set-up to go up the mountain, then you get a little kind of Go- cart that you sit on to ride down one of 3 bobsleigh tracks, scenic (very slow) intermediate (awesome, much faster and easier to control bizarrely) and advanced (didn't get that far!)
Once you have gone down your chosen luge route, halfway down the mountain, you get the ski type chair lift back up, and then go luge back down again. Pretty great views at the top too!
Our freedom camping spot for tonight
This morning we packed up from our all singing, all dancing campsite, (UK campsites really really do suck comparatively!) and made our way to the South side of the lake 30km away to get closer to the Tongariro mountain range, home to Mount Doom!
En route we passed the Huka Falls, part of the same river as the Rapids the other day, but this time a super wide part of the river narrows into a 7m wide stretch on a slope, so making the turbulent falls! Our afternoon has been spent in the "car park" as Adam and Liss keep calling it, playing frisbee and top trumps and jumping in the lake... Amazingly, despite their name for it, Liss thinks this is the best campsite we have stayed at on this trip :-)
Well I've finally caught back up with the blog. What amazing adventures you are all having. Keep making memories of a lifetime xx
Was beginning to worry that you might have been grabbed by the Orcs!! Painful. Relieved that you are all happy and well and enjoying Betsy. Will a Betsy or similar be on your Wish List for 2015?
Pleased to see everything is going well, if not quite to plan. xx
Getting more and more envious with each post I read! New Zealand looks amazing xx