Having spent a week or so in the Central Plateau, and having completed several outstanding hikes, I decided it was time to start heading back north. (And return my rental car!)
The drive from Whakapapa Village to Taupo is very nice. Great scenery, curvy roads, and very little traffic.
I made a couple of short stops on my way to Taupo:
I first stopped at Lake Rotopounamu, where I took a 2-hour walk around the lake. This is a very nice walk through some dense, green forest that comes alive with chirping birds (and in my case dripping rain). There are several short paths from the main trail down to the lakeside shore where you can sit quietly and watch for birds. It was very foggy during my walk; I enjoyed watching the fog roll silently across the lake, too.
My second stop was the famous Huka Falls, where again I took a quick walk. I parked below the Falls and made a 15-minute walk up to the lower part of the Falls. Then I walked back to the car and drove up to the official Visitor Center. I parked, and took a 1 minute hike to the top of the Falls.
The Falls are known not for height but sheer water volume and power. You don’t need a lot of time here, but it’s worth a quick visit for their unique nature. They have a jet boat ride that looks pretty fun, but I’m sure it’s pricey.
After my morning adventures, I drove back to the town of Taupo. I checked into my accommodation, the Suncourt Apartments. My room was very spacious and modern, with a balcony overlooking Lake Taupo.
I returned my rental car to the Budget office (which conveniently was just short walk from the town center). I walked back to the town center, and enjoyed a pulled pork and a beer at Pub ‘N Grub. After lunch, I meandered along the lakeside as I headed back to my apartment.
I had dinner in the adjacent restaurant (Lake Bistro). I opted for the fish and chips, noticing that that’s what several locals were eating. I ate too fast though, as I was trying to get back to my balcony for sunset!
The next morning, I headed to Replete Café for eggs on toast, a coffee, and some WIFI. After noticing the nearby Marmot store was having a huge sale, I resisted the urge to buy a cool Marmot Ares puffy jacket. Instead, I just headed to the bus station where I caught the Intercity bus to Rotorua…