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Tuesday, 04 December 2007

Taupo, New Zealand on a Budget - Page 3

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

Crossing a wooden bridge takes you back down to the path, where you will notice the natural hot spa pools which gave Spa Thermal Park its name. The hot mineral water flows down the stony terrain, creating a cloud of steam most visible in the winter months. Many entranced by the concept will shed their clothes for an invigorating dip, yet this is probably best ventured on a different day when you have your car and a pile of fresh towels parked back at the Events center.

Taupo, NZA pleasant 45-minute bush-walk through native forest will lead you to Huka Falls, the largest waterfall on the Waikato River. Previously calm waters now begin to roar louder with every step closer to the falls. At this point you can see and hear the full force of the Waikato River. This great body of water narrows down, picks up speed, and sends 400-tonnes of water plunging over an 11-meter drop every second. A foot bridge over the falls captures the sheer force and speed of the flow. Around the falls, look-out points have been constructed to create the perfect photo opportunity, as well as to provide information about the river.

In 1950, after the construction of the Wairake geothermal power station, an area close by started to produce geothermal activity. This area, now called Craters of the Moon, was created by the decrease in underground water pressure caused by the station. Craters of the Moon is a 40 minute walk from Huka Falls. The entrance is off the main highway opposite the red Helistar helicopter. An adjacent café makes for an excellent lunch stop.Taupo, NZ

Craters of the Moon (entry $5 for adult, $2 for children, cash only) is now a 2km trail of bubbling craters, mud pools, and steam vents. A wooden walkway has been constructed to make the area wheel chair friendly, and protect visitors from the heat of the soil.

The 45 minute track has several viewing platforms. From the edge you can witness huge craters puffing out warm steam that is slightly sulfurous, creating an egg-like smell and eerie atmosphere. Vents and crates are constantly changing and non-native plants have sprung up around the area due to the steamy -hot conditions. An optional loop, providing excellent look-out points, can be accessed near the end of the track, adding another 20 minutes to your journey.

Getting There

Taupo is easily accessible. For those with little time to spare, Air New Zealand flights are quick and convenient. www.airnewzealand.co.nz offers flights to Taupo from plenty of destinations. Make sure you view ‘grab a seat’ special offers, as bargains can often be found. Car hire is probably the most convenient form of transportation. Depending on what you want to see in Taupo, having a car will make moving from attraction to attraction a breeze.

Stray Travel is a tour company providing travel passes for specific routes around New Zealand. For example, a travel pass incorporating Auckland, Hahei, Hot Water Beach, Raglan, Waitomo Caves, Rotorua and Taupo will cost around $285. Your pre-booked pass allows you to hop on and off at your chosen destinations. Great for the independent traveler, Stray Travel gives you the opportunity to meet fellow explorers and learn a little about the culture and history from your bus driver guide. More information can be found at www.straytravel.co.nz

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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