Monday, August 04, 2003

To Taupo

Up at 7:30, showered, breakfast, checked out and headed south to Wai-O-Tapu, a geothermal "wonderland" got the thumbs up from Lets Go, and the Funky Green Voyager workers (Chris and Catherine) said it's the best of all the geothermal areas around.

Left about 8:45, as I wanted to get down there for the eruption of the Lady Knox geyser at 10:15. (How can nature be so precise? Find out later below!)

Got to Wai-O-Tapu about 9:15, walked around for a while, then went to the geyser (5-minute drive from the main area). On schedule, the geyser erupted at 10:15, spouting, perhaps 8-10 metres high at it's peak, then continuing at various heights for more than 15 minutes (that's when I left), apparently it could go on for an hour. Why is it so precise? Well, nature isn't, to get the geyser to perform, the park staff drop 1kg of soap into the geyser hole at 10:15 to coax it to spew. It's natural cycle is anywhere between 24-48 hours.

Went back to the main area, and walked around the rest of the park. This place is amazing. Boiling mud pits, boiling hot springs, an incredible silicate terrace, very colourful rock and water formations (from the various minerals in the soil and steam and water, as it comes up from below), pools and craters. WOW!!! It's very impressive, I'm glad I went.

Left Wai-O-Tapu about 11:45 and continued south towards Taupo, stopped at Aratiatia Falls along the way. The falls are only "active" when the power station opens its gates to release water, 3 times daily in winter. When I arrived, the doors were already open, so missed the "great rush", but did see the rapids in action.

Continued on to Taupo, got to town about 12:30, and went to Action DownUnder YHA, quite a nice hostel, and thumbs up from Lets Go.

I had a super nice morning, no clouds, the sun was shining brightly, about noon, clouds started rolling in little bit of rain, off and on clouds rest of the day, and, with the clouds, the temperature dropped a little too.

From Taupo, south, you can see the three big peaks on the North Island (2000+ metres). All three are volcano's, all still active (and could blow at any moment). The peaks are all covered in snow as well. NZ's biggest ski resort is on these mountains.

Had lunch, then walked downtown and around. I'm looking for a book, book 3 of a trilogy I'm reading. The book was easily available at every bookstore in Sydney and Auckland, but I can't find it in Rotorua or Taupo! They all have the first two books, but not the third. Ugh!

Back to the hostel, on the way back, found some boxes in a shopping cart in the parking lot of Pak'N'Save, so grabbed a couple (to carry my food).

Back at the hostel, drove to Taupo Bungy, and watched a hysterical, screaming (of fright) girl jump off the bungy ledge over the Waikato River. It's a 43m (I think) bungee jump. She was screaming while standing on the ledge, and she continued screaming for the duration of the jump, until she finally stopped bouncing, then she stopped screaming. Quite the lungs she had. But I have to give her credit for facing her fears and doing it!!!

Then I drove to Gravity Hill, essentially a grass and dirt hill where you mountainboard (snowboarding on wheels).

Drove around some more, then back to the hostel and had supper, then went to and internet.

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