September 1, 2016

Taupo and Huka Falls

I got my first taste (literally!) of New Zealand’s beautiful turquoise-colored water during my visit to Hamurana Springs in Rotorua. But that’s nothing compared to the rumbling, tumbling turquoise glory of Taupo’s Huka Falls. More on that shortly.

Taupo is about an hour from Rotorua and a logical next step for my journey heading south. I found a great B&B near the city center where, for the first time in a long time, I was able to enjoy breakfast each morning with fellow guests. Two women from China were particularly kind and offered up lots of ideas for touring their country. One asked if she could take a photo with me, and normally I’d say no because I really don’t like selfies. But she was so enthusiastic, she charmed me. Just this once!

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Taupo has a nice lakeside harbour with a pedestrian path that extends for miles. Also near the harbour — the SuperLoo! I’ve seen a lot of public toilets RTW, but none with a better name.

My B&B hosts said the harbour also offered a view of Mount Ngauruhoe — or “Mount Doom” to fans of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films. I’m not positive, but I think this is the right one. It’s hard to tell with the cloudy haze … and with no flaming Eye of Sauron hovering above it. Tee hee.

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(Kind of) along those same lines … I’ve noticed the word “hell” used in a number of New Zealand restaurant names. I saw Hell Pizza in Auckland. In Taupo, it was just plain Hell.

I didn’t go to Hell, as it were, but I did take a picture of their sign!

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Taupo’s also the place where I tried my first Burger Fuel, a New Zealand “gourmet” burger chain. While the Bastard Burger and Peanut Piston were tempting menu options, I was content with my 1/3 pounder and a pleasing Lake Taupo view. Both were pretty tasty.

But the headliner for Taupo — and for this post — is Huka Falls. Getting there on foot from the town center requires a beautiful, hilly hike that took me 1.5 hours in each direction. Along the way, I passed a bungy jump with no jumpers and a hot spring filled with college-age soakers. And, of course, plenty of turquoise-colored water.

I also kept passing these beautiful coniferous trees with red, craggy bark. What kind are they? My googling efforts have yet to solve the mystery.

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Then, finally, I got to the falls. My still photos do a better job of capturing the color of the water … but the videos capture the energy. And the sound!

Since I visited Huka Falls on a weekday, the thinner crowds meant I didn’t have to jostle for photos. There were also plenty of places to linger and watch the water … and get a breather before starting the hike back to town.

I found that three nights in Taupo was the perfect amount of time to see what I wanted to see. While there, I also found a good Indian restaurant, took additional scenic walks, and had some nice chats with the very kind locals.

But I didn’t go to Hell.

Maybe next time!