The beginning of the year 2014 should also mark the “real” beginning of my journey through New Zealand. On the 4th of November, I popped into my car in Auckland and headed South, the first (only brief) stop being Te Aroha, a small, cosy town, where my travelmates decided to stay over New Year’s Eve as they didn’t feel like spending theirs in Auckland. On the same day, I spontaneously suggested filling the day with an activity before proceeding to the famous town Taupo: Whitewater Rafting on the Kaituna River near Rotorua! Sorry, no photos as these were fuckin’ expensive (like of all adventure companies in NZ), but it was good fun – the river is really beautiful, as it runs mostly through rainforest plus it was very hot on this particular day, so the cold water was more than welcome. Trips on this river include the jump of a 7 metres waterfall, apparently the world’s highest commercially rafted one. When we fell down, I realised the security handle on the raft’s ground torn off, which didn’t really make a difference as you fell out the raft anyway – but still I was a bit worried! You can guess what the Kiwi guide’s answer was like: “Yeah mate, that happens. They always fuck up.”
Taupo is famous for its big lake (which is actually the crater of a super volcano), the Māori rock carvings therein, the Huka Falls, some hot pools located outside of the town – and for its skydiving. I’d bet over 80 % of all travellers who are keen to try this extreme sport in NZ will do it in Taupo. Allegedly it’s the cheapest one too, but that’s not true, as you can jump for the same price in ie Queenstown, which offers a scenery four times as great as the Taupo area. In general, this place belongs to the most popular among young travellers…but I don’t know why? My personal experience with Taupo was rather average, and from what I’ve seen, it doesn’t has that much to offer. The aforementioned Maori Rock carvings were really of big interest for me; it turned out most people visited them by kayak, which is $70 for visiting them and bringing the kayaks back. Well, that’s too much for these either, so I was happy when the hostel where we stayed at suggested to take a sailboat there: As they have a good relationship to the boat’s skipper, we got a discount and only had to pay $25 for it, and that’s fair! We had good views from the lake, looking at the Mt Ruapehu and Taupo itself with a mountain in the background. The rock carvers created a big face of a Māori deity, well done lizards and some smaller carvings with symbols and more faces based on Māori culture.
One day later we were unlucky and it was rainy for hours; we went into town later to grab some food, which turned out to be expensive (oh wonder), but after that we didn’t find much more to see, so we slacked around the hostel for the rest of the day. It was much better the day after, when we went to see the famous Huka Falls, which are indeed nice – but overcrowded with (mainly) Asian tourists. A bit annoyed about our whole Taupo experience, we went on to National Park (yes, that’s the village’s name) located in the Tongariro National Park (you don’t say!) to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, the – so they say – most beautiful one-day hike of the world. I’ll tell you in the next post if it’s true! 😉 Oh, and before I forget it…Taupo’s public bins look nice.