Taupo, New Zealand – February 2, 2018
Our drive from Napier to Taupo took just under two hours. It was cloudy and rainy, nearly the entire distance.
Taupo is a city at the north end of Lake Taupo. With a population of roughly 24,000, it is about one-third the size of Grand Junction, Colorado. As one may have noticed, Taupo is a Maori word. The full Maori name for the town is Taupo nui a Tia, a reference to the cloak of Tia, the person that discovered the lake.
We stayed at the Acacia Lake View Motel in an apartment at the front of the motel. We had a lovely view of Lake Taupo from the living room. The scene included the hole-in-one challenge. There were several tee boxes with artificial turf from which one could try to get a hole-in-one on a floating platform anchored out in the lake. There were three different holes on the platform, each of various sizes. Discretion was the better part of valor; I did not even try the challenge.
After breakfast the next morning, we drove to the marina. While we waited for our boat to take us to the Maori Rock Carvings, I walked away from the marina to the lake’s edge. There, I stumbled across two black swans and numerous ducks. At that time, the weather was stunning, allowing for a beautiful landscape photograph.
When we boarded the boat, we initially sat on the upper level. Just before we departed the marina, we moved to the main level. On that level, there were tables with fixed bench seats. At the rear of the seating area was a small bar from which they served muffins, tea, and coffee.
Moored in a slip nearby was the Ernest Kemp. It is another of the vessels that daily transports tourists to see the carvings. It is a unique looking vessel. I had initially thought we should have reserved space on that boat. It reminded me of the T.S.S. Earnslaw we had enjoyed while in Queenstown about two years ago. However, after seeing how small the Ernest Kemp was, I was pleased with our selection of transport.
As we departed our slip, the weather was variable. At times we enjoyed brilliant sunshine. Then, just moments later, we found ourselves in an intense downpour. We were pleased the boat seating area was enclosed. The Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde weather was with us throughout our trip.
Once underway, one of the attendants shared details and tidbits about the area as we slid along through the water. The surface area of Lake Taupo, 236 square miles, is nearly the same size as the country of Singapore. The average depth of the lake is 110 meters (360 feet). At its deepest point, the lake reaches 186 meters (610 feet).
For those friends in Colorado, it is worth comparing Lake Taupo with Blue Mesa Reservoir, the largest body of water in that state. The surface area is a mere 14 square miles, about twice the area of Fruita, Colorado. The maximum depth of Blue Mesa is 104 meters (341 feet).
Shortly after departing the marina, the attendant directed our attention to Mount Tauhara, referring to it as the “pregnant woman mountain.” It was easy to see why when looking at the profile of the mountain. Mount Tauhara is a dormant volcano. Its summit is at 3,569 meters (11,709 feet) above sea level.
A little over an hour into our trip, we stopped in Mine Bay to view the Maori Rock Carvings. The attendants opened the front hatch on the boat so we could stand on the bow and take photos. Standing was quite difficult. Our weather stirred up the lake such that the bow was severely bouncing around.
On the route back to the marina, I found it stunning just how crystal clear the water appears. I can only wonder what it would be like to dive into the lake.
Walking from the boat back to our vehicle, we saw a family of black swans enjoying a meal. I do not know if it was a male or female, but the older black swan pulled water plants to the surface so the five cygnets could easily partake of the meal. They did not seem to be bothered at all by the parade of humans coming by their dinner table.
The following morning, as we departed Taupo, we stopped at Huka Falls. The fall is more of a horizontal fall than a vertical fall; but, none the less, it is impressive to see the clear blue water rushing north. This is the beginning of the Waikato River. Huka is the Maori word for foam.
From there, it was on to Ohope Beach.