Taupo

Hello everyone,

The next stop on my spring break trip was Taupo, located in the middle of the North Island on the shores of the great Lake Taupo. The nearby hot springs, waterfalls, and the vast waters of the lake attract photographers, nature enthusiasts, and outdoor sports adventurers from all over the island. Sarah and I didn’t have any concrete plans for our time in Taupo, but we were excited to see the lake and to go hiking up to a nearby waterfall.

We got into Taupo in early afternoon and decided to hike up to Huka Falls, which is one of New Zealand’s most visited attractions. The trail started in Spa Park and took around an hour and a half of hiking to reach the falls. The trail was beautiful, meandering under cool forest canopies and winding alongside the shockingly blue Waikato river.

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The falls themselves were breathtaking, full of thunderous turquoise water and surprising ferocity and power.

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By the time we got back from the falls the sun was setting over the river, painting the sky in pale pink and gray.

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The next day Sarah and I took a sailboat trip on the lake. The day started out partly cloudy but cleared and turned sunny as the morning progressed. The lake was a bright blue and ruffled by a light breeze, but unfortunately there wasn’t enough wind for the captain to sail by the breeze so he had to use the motor.

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The sailboat took us around the nearest part of the lake and then stopped at the famous Maori Rock Carving on Mine Bay. Completed in 1980 by master carver Matahi Brightwell and a team of four artists over four years, the carvings tower fourteen meters above the lake’s surface. The main carving is the giant face of Brightwell’s ancestor Ngatoroirangi, covered with patterns and designs representing cultural values and concepts. The rocks around the face are covered with carvings of ancestors and guardians. This site represents an incredible and important piece of cultural heritage and I feel very lucky to have seen it.

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Carvings of spirits and ancestors can be seen on the lighter parts of the rocks above.
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Giant lizards stand as guardians and protectors of Ngatoroirangi.

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The sailboat ride was wonderfully fun and refreshing. It was one of my favorite activities of the entire week, and it was a great way to spend our only full day in Taupo. Sarah and I got back to the town in the afternoon and spent a couple hours walking by the lake before returning to the hostel to eat and go to bed, because we had to get up bright and early to catch a bus out of town.

Next stop, Rotorua!

Until next time,

Rachael

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