Ahh. Taupo, New Zealand. I may have to claim Taupo as my favourite place on the North Island (as I haven’t been to the South Island yet so can’t say in all of New Zealand). So, let me try to explain all the reasons why I loved Taupo so much.
Just after dropping off my backpack, I heading right out to the Maori Rock Cravings. The rock carvings are only accessible by water. You can take a boat or kayak out there yourself. Personally, I chose sailing on Fearless. It was great! I was a little worried since I do have the tendency to get sea sick but I felt fine the entire time. We were giving plenty of time to take photos of the carvings as well as just being able to enjoy the views from the lake. We were given hot chocolate and cookies on the way back to the marina since it was quite chilly. Overall, I couldn’t have imagined a better way to see the carvings. It was relaxed and fun and all for $35. P.S. This was also the cheapest way to get out to the carvings if your are on a strict budget.
Before we move on to the other activities I got up to, I want to take a minute to gush about the lake. Lake Taupo is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life. I grew up around water. Every town I lived in was located on some body of water. When people talk about Lake Taupo, they always mention how big it is, “It’s the size of Singapore! Wow! So big!”… I’m from Toronto which is situated on a lake much bigger than Singapore. What I found so amazing about the lake was the colour. I have never seen water so blue! It was a deep, royal blue colour and left me awe struck. I think it’s this raw beauty that makes me love Taupo so much.
Anyways, back to the activities. Huka Falls is one of the mine attractions in the Taupo area. I decided to hike up to the falls with a stop at Otumuheke Stream with a couple people from the hostel I was staying at. Otumuheke Stream is a hot stream that flows into the Waikato River which is free to take a dip in. If the stream gets a little too warm for you, you can swim out into the cool water of the river. It can get a bit crowded like any other popular and free point of interest but I’d say to try your luck while making your way to the falls. About another 45 minutes up the trail from the hot stream, is Huka Falls.
Huka Falls had the similar affect on me as Lake Taupo. Complete amazement – not for the power that most people highlight as it’s special feature, but for the colour. While the lake was a beautiful dark blue, the falls is a vibrant turquoise. But if you aren’t like me and don’t become mesmerised by the colour blue, you can take note of the powerful 220,000 litres of water that rushes through the gorge every second. I was lucky enough to meet a few crazy Canadian boys at the hostel who decided they needed to jump in the river by the falls.
[WARNING: These guys did a lot of surveying of the area to find a safe place to jump and have been doing this kind of stuff for many years so knew what was needed in a safe jump spot. As mentioned, the water is super powerful and the river isn’t deep enough in many parts – not a recommended activity… but it was a hilarious highlight of my person trip so I felt like mentioning it.]
There are other popular activities in Taupo that I decided to skip on including skydiving and jet boating. Taupo is also used as the base for the Tongariro Crossing. These were things I just wasn’t interested in at this point in my New Zealand journey. So, dear Taupo, you definitely captured my heart and possibly the title of favourite North Island place.