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Tuesday, 04 December 2007

Taupo, New Zealand on a Budget - Page 2

Written by Lydia Horrex
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Eighteen hundred years ago there was an explosive volcanic eruption - the largest the world has seen in 5,000 years. The Chinese noted a ‘blackening of the sky’, and the Romans recorded ‘the heavens turning fiery red’. Much of New Zealand’s North Island was covered in a thick layer of pumice. Today we can still see the result of the volcanic eruption: Lake Taupo. The lake covers an impressive 622 square meters, an area the same size of Singapore

Taupo, NZYou may not have come to Taupo to lounge by the pool, but after a long days hike it’s not a bad idea to release the tension in your muscles. Taupo Hot Springs ( ) is at the top of the ‘must do’ list when visiting Taupo. Located 3 km south-east of the center, it may be a fair walking distance, but certainly worth the trek. This out-door center has both public ($16) and private ($18) pools filled with therapeutic natural mineral water. It is open from 7.30am till 9.30pm, but best visited in the evening. It’s definitely worth the extra $2 to have unlimited access to the private spas where you can choose from a variety of water temperatures. Skin and beauty treatments are available, and children are easily entertained by the hydro slide and playground area, so be prepared to stay 2-3 hours.

Additionally, Taupo Events Center offers the warmth of thermally heated indoor and outdoor pools at their AC Baths swimming complex. Opening times are 6am till 9pm. Prices start at $6.50 for an adult swim, with extra costs for use of the slides, sauna, steam room, private pools and BBQ hire.

Day Two: Taupo Bungy, Huka Falls and Craters of the Moon

New Zealand’s longest river, the Waikato River, gently flows downstream from Lake Taupo, heading further into the North Island. Just north of the lake is a first-class walk along the Waikato river valley that will lead you to Huka Falls and Craters of the moon, two of Taupo’s best-loved sights. Taking most of the day, this walk can prove tiring at times. Remember to take plenty of water and snacks, and prepare for unpredictable weather conditions.

Starting at i-SITE Visitors Center, located on Tongariro Street, follow the road heading away from town. After 10 minutes you will reach a crossing over the river; this is where the walk begins. Take the right hand side of the river edge, heading downstream. The noise from the highway will soon be replaced with flowing water and soothing birdsong.

After 40 minutes of peaceful walking along the river bank you will reach the splendid 45 meter-high white cliffs of Hell’s Gate. Cherry Island is one of the first things you will notice on this section of the river. Now barricaded up and uninviting, Cherry Island used to be a small island reserve open to the public, housing small animals, a café and an art galley.

Taupo, NZIt is from this spot where you can watch in awe as bungee jumpers make a leap of faith. In the height of summer it’s not uncommon to see jumpers every 3-4 minutes. To get close to the action, follow the path up the hillside where magnificent views overlook the Waikato River. Follow the trail up to the roadside where Taupo Bungy ( ) is located. From here you can enjoy a drink whilst watching jumpers take the plunge. Surprisingly, you can even walk out on the 20-metre long bungee platform to get a feel for the drop. If this happens to awaken the dare devil inside you, jumps are $100, with repeat jumps at $45. Taupo, NZ

From Taupo Bungy, take Spa Road followed by Country Avenue, a path winding you back down to the river edge. In this area, Spa Thermal Park, you will find Taupo Events Center ( ). This indoor sports, recreation, and exercise training facility offers rock climbing (priced at $10) for both new and experienced climbers. With parking on hand, the center provides a practical place to set off on a half-day walk to Huka-Falls (if a full-day doesn’t take your fancy).

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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