October, Lil and Keith’s Wedding Anniversary
Best wishes Lil and Keith, and happy wedding anniversary. We present them with a bottle of bubbles, we picked up from our winery visits yesterday.
We have a celebratory breakfast at Mister D, an upmarket modern eatery, not far from our hotel. The restaurant was created about four years by two Hawkes Bay couples who shared a vision and passion to serve fresh local produce as they would like to eat. All the bread and pastries are cooked in house. The food was delicious. Waffles and poached fruit, black sausage and eggs, baked eggs and avocado with dukkah and poached egg.
Fueled up, we grab our bags and a couple of kiwi fruit from the fruit bowl at reception, check out of the County Inn, pack the car and head off on the 2 hr drive to Taupo. Along the way, we pass more green mountainous hills and valleys, numerous pine forests, dairy cows and grazing sheep that must be related to mountain goats.
From an elevated position the huge Lake Taupo comes into view and we know the general direction to our waterfront accommodation, as it’s next door to our accommodation of 2 years ago. On our last visit to Taupo we unsuccessfully sought out accommodation at the Millennium, so stayed next door in what looked quite down market but shared all the Millennium’s facilities. The lakeside room was on par, but this time the bathroom much better!
After settling, we drive a short distance to town, spot the Information Centre and book a Huka Falls River cruise. We have a quick lunch at Victoria’s Kitchen and head off to meet up with the Huka Falls River Cruise up the Waikato River.
The Waikato River flows out of Lake Taupo. Lake Taupo is in the caldera of the Taupo volcano and has a surface area of 616 sq klms, is 186m deep and a circumference of 193 klms. It’s the largest lake by surface area in NZ.
The cruise is very enjoyable. The crystal clear water is home to much birdlife, natural hot streams and fish of course. We saw swans with cygnets in tow and David even saw a large brown trout. The conditions are so good for breeding swans, that they have become a problem to farmers, eating their crops. This has unfortunately brought about a short culling season. We saw a large number of swans grazing in the paddocks along the riverbank. Before we sight the Huka Falls we pass by the sustainable Wairakei Geothermal Power Station. A great use of the geothermal action in the area.
We hear the water thundering as we approach the Falls, where enough water comes over the fall in 4 seconds to fill an Olympic swimming pool. The boat does numerous 360 degree turns in the surging, foaming turbulent water at the base of the fall for all to get up close and personal with the spray and for photo shoots. Very exciting and exhilarating. The commentary was very informative and we noted some tips for later. The captain of the boat mentioned we had some thermal action right near our hotel on the edge of Lake Taupo and the best views of bubbling mud was on our way to Rotorua and it was free.
We arrive back in time to catch the 4pm opening of the spillway of the dam, exploding water over the Aratiatia Rapids. There is a convenient bridge in the roadway situated perfectly to view the dam spillway on one side of the bridge and the water swelling up and raging over the rapids.
On our way back to the hotel we see the sign on our right to Craters of the Moon and decide to check out some thermal action. There are other numerous geothermal activities in the Taupo area, but this is probably the most compact, close, easy access and least time consuming. We turn off the highway only a couple of klms north of Taupo, past the Thermal pools and the labyrinth of pipes directing steam to the power station to the 45 minute boardwalk, Craters of the Moon. It is an active geothermal field of steam vents that have obviously shifted, giving the field that other worldly appearance. The boardwalk and viewing platforms take one safely close enough to bubbling Craters, colourful soils and plants that have adapted to the hot steamy smelly environment.
Back at the hotel, Lil and I head off to seek out the steam vents the Captain of the boat mentioned and sure enough there they were in a few places on the waterfront.
Bubbles are opened outside our lakeside hotel rooms and we toast Lil and Keith and enjoy the vastness of the lake, before we head of to a celebratory dinner at The Bistro restaurant. Cheers to Lil and Keith!
We were greeted at the restaurant by a waiter who said we were late, whoops (not a good start), but there must have been crossed wires, as we were only 5 minutes later than our booked time (even though we had a senior moment finding the restaurant) and the restaurant wasn’t anywhere near full. Dinner choices were fairly limited, but fantastic and very well presented, as you can see from the photos.