Posted by: scribe9 | April 3, 2010

Lake Taupo and northwards

On the way home from our fishing trip, I thought I was just carsick. It turned out that I was developing a major migraine, which I slept off the next day instead of hiking the Tongariro Crossing and to the top of Mt. Mount Ngauruhoe (an active volcano next to Tongariro), best known as Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings films.

Rick and his friend David did the hike, and were both glad they had borrowed their wives’ hiking poles, because the main ascent is up scree,

 which is no fun even with poles. 

Here’s the nearby Crater Lake:

We had been staying south of Lake Taupo, and the next day we drove up the east side. Taupo is New Zealand’s Great Lake, and although you can easily see across it, the wave action looked a bit like it did on Lake Superior when I saw it many years ago–rough enough that the ducks are sitting it out.

Taupo, the largest lake in the country, is the source of the Waikato (“flowing water” in Maori), the longest river in the country. The river leaves the lake through a narrow, wild chute that nobody could survive;

 the water is so aerated that it won’t hold up a human,

 and plunges so hard that there’s a major undertow at the bottom of the Huka falls.

Nearby is an impressive thermal area,

with geysers,

mudpots,

a pool noted for cleaning jewelry,

and other flows.

It’s privately owned, which surprised us; something like that in the US would be in a national park.

Our last stop was Hamilton, where the Waikato is large enough that crews and Maori canoe teams train on the river. It has a nice river walk, although one wouldn’t want to be there after dark. Bluff oysters, from the southern tip of the South Island (it’s the southern terminus of Highway 1), had just arrived, so we enjoyed them at the Iguana Restaurant (why iguanas? no clue–maybe just to have a theme for decoration). Our waitress noticed that one of us was coming down with a cold, and kindly brought a cup of hot water with honey and lemon.

 The next morning, it was off to Auckland to leave our friends at the airport and drive back to Whangarei and Real Life.

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