Andy and I are just back from our first NZ road-trip together, during which we had lots of fun exploring the Central Plateau of the North Island. Read more for the highlights of the trip…
- Trying to put our rented car into reverse while we were traveling at 100kph on the highway as we left Wellington (Andy).
- Tandem skydiving from 12,000ft over Lake Taupo (me). Well, Taupo is the skydiving capital of the world with over 30,000 jumps per year, and Andy jumped here a couple of years ago so I kindof had to : ).
- Sailing on the Barbary, a 1926 50ft ocean-going yacht, on Lake Taupo.
- Relaxing in Rotorua (Second Lake) in our backpackers’ obligatory thermal pool until it was time for bed.
- Relaxing with early-morning flat whites in the thermal pool before anyone else thought of it.
- Exploring Wai-O-Tapu (Sacred Waters) Thermal Wonderland. This thermal park showcases some spectacular geological features including erupting geysers, steaming fumaroles, collapsed craters, bubbling mud pools, thermal springs and mineral terraces. The most impressive of all was probably the Champagne Pool - a steaming and effervescent green pool bordered by an orange mineral shelf.
- Relaxing at 38°C (comfortably warm), 39°C (mmm, lovely and warm) and 40°C (hot!) in the Waikite Valley Thermal Pools, before visiting the adjacent Te Manaroa (Charismatic, Long-lasting) thermal spring, which discharges 40-50L of 98°C water every second.
- Tramping the Tongariro Crossing (a 17km walk taking ~7-8h) in the Tongariro National Park. The ascent crosses the Mangatepopo Saddle between two active volcanoes - the broad-domed Mount Tongariro and the conical Mount Ngauruhoe (which stars as Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings trilogy), and the descent skirts the opaque Emerald Lakes and the clear Blue Lake before passing through Alpine scrub and tussock, and native podocarp forest.
- Soothing our aching leg muscles in the Tokaanu Thermal Pools.
- Driving along the unbelievably scenic Whanganui River Road from Pipiriki to Wanganui. This narrow, winding, and partially unsealed road runs alongside the Whanganui River for 78km. The temporary beaching of the car on the edge of the road (me) had little effect on our enjoyment of the panoramic views of the green river and the even-greener native forests.
Our only regret about the trip is that we didn’t have time to visit the Huka Prawn Park. Killer Prawn Golf will just have to wait : ).