Even getting from A to B can be exciting and beautiful.

Once the rotten egg stench was not enveloping us to a degree where we would fear any open flame, we realised we were quite tired already and deserved a little break. Not so much from the fumes as from the walking, but the clean air south of Rotorua did us good as well.

After we skipped the Hot&Cold spot next to Wai-O-Tapu, we still needed a soak so we stopped over at the Spa Thermal Park in the city of Taupo, situated on the northern tip of New Zealand’s largest lake of the same name. There was a spot in one of the Waikato river bends where an incredibly hot spring pours into it, thus creating a pool of fluctuating temperature which was a great spot to unwind.

The Waikato River, which drains Lake Taupo, is also NZ’s longest river. As for the lake, not only does it span over 626 km², but it is also one of the largest trout fishing pools in the country, including introduced brown and rainbow trout.

Funny thing about trout fishing in NZ: it’s the only way to get the tasty fish on the islands. Selling it is banned by law, but you’re allowed catch your own dinner. If you can 🙂

And then, when you start driving up the Tongariro Mountain, you get a lake view like this one:

Only it’s much more spectacular when you’re standing up there. Even when you’re already tired. Even when there’s still about an hour of driving ahead until you get to your next accommodation. Even with the soughing wind piercing through the tiny slits of the otherwise wind-proof jacket’s zippers, I just stood there, climbed on top of a roadside picnic table, staring into the distance, unable to let this view go.

But you have to let go. And it’s OK, because you know that in just a little while there will be another amazing view, another lovely play of light like this one I managed to take a snapshot of though out constantly dirty windshield (just FYI, only water in the wipers’ tank does very little for a very short time):

This day was so full of great sights that I’m not sure I’ll be able to fit them all in. But I have to mention Huka Falls. I just have to. Like I mentioned before, New Zealand is abundant with all sorts of water sources in every shape and size possible. So we’d already seen a few waterfalls in are first days in Kiwiland. But this one was still unexpected and really impressive. This is what it looked like from, let’s say, 15 minutes walking distance:

A close-up would give a better idea:

But the fact is, even though a picture’s worth a thousand words, I don’t think this feeling can be quite represented by a static image. Which is why I’ve done something I’m pretty sure is a first for me (and the email from YouTube confirms it) and I’ve uploaded a short video I took from the small bridge that crosses the river a little before the eight or so meter drop. Eight meters doesn’t sound impressive, I know, but if you take a look at the first two sentences in the link above (or here) and then take a look (and listen to) the video, I think you’ll get what I mean.

And here’s the video I’ve been advertising (I couldn’t embed it for some reason so here’s the link): http://youtu.be/zaesKlyxLk0

After we enjoyed the thunderous Huka Falls we finally set off towards our next abode, The Crossing Backpackers. Amazingly, we managed to get there before sundown, so we were able to look around. And the first thing that made this hostel really cool was this giant garden set!! With the two huge speakers taken out on the deck and the fact that there’s not another soul in a radius of about 20K, the party-possibilities are endless!

And if I thought that was cool, that was only because I hadn’t gone down this corridor on the left here yet, only to discover….

(WARNING! Major nerd-alert!!! :))) )

…only to discover this next item on my way back!

For those of you who are not curious

enough to look closer, here’s a hint:

Yes, yes. I haven’t had symptoms in a while but that’s only because it’s been a long time since I’d had the opportunity.

Anyway, the hostel was quite nice. Big common room, big kitchen, separating the garbage (including the leftovers, which went into a bucket designated for the pig Daisy), and all that.

And if you’re wondering why it’s called the Crossing, the answer is quite obvious once you know it was our stop and pick-up point to do the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing – the most popular one-day trek in New Zealand.

We met a couple of people who had done it the previous day and they said the weather was great and it’s worth going up the nearby peaks, even though they’re off the track. We were even more excited about the hike.

After having some dinner, we prepared some (more) sandwiches for breakfast and the hike, filled our water bottles; signed all our food, as instructed by a note in most hostels, before we put it in the fridge, and went to bed. We didn’t need convincing, it was a long day and an even longer one was ahead of us.

After all, it’s Mount Doom we’re talking about! :)))

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About Yoanna Novakova

Yoanna is a reader, writer, traveller, concert goer, hiker, drinker, thinker and, of late... a blogger. She's currently doing a lot of travel writing (obviously), but fiction, fantasy and life-writing all have a representative in her portfolio. A reader of varied tastes, she's even been called "strange" for enjoying Stephen King and Terry Pratchett alike. In her pre-teen years, she used to be the kid who'd re-read her favourite books over and over again. Now she knows life is just too short for that. Always reading more than one book at a time, always writing more than one project at a time, she is yet to find her perfect pace. But she's working on it!
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