It turns out you don’t have to travel out to space to walk on the moon, you just have to go to Taupo. Well sort of…
We arrived to Taupo around midday, after a brief stop at Turangi, but the lady at their I-Site was so rude and unwilling to help us that we left. The first rude Kiwi we’d met throughout our whole trip! So I figured she must have been a fake one.
The drive towards Taupo is lovely, parts of it takes you along the beautiful Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand. As you enter Taupo you also enter the geothermal active areas. Which means you can find hot springs and other crazy things. Such as The Craters of the Moon, which we paid a visit to.
The Craters of the Moon is a geothermal valley, full of large crater looking holes, that emits hot air and steam and some even boiling mud. A boardwalk takes you through the whole area and do different viewing platforms along the way. The whole walk takes about 45 min. It does get a little bit smelly from the sulphur, but it’s nothing too bad. It was very fascinating to see and to think that this place continuously expands is incredible!
Lake Taupo runs out into the Waikato River, the longest river in New Zealand, and just outside Taupo you will find Huka Falls, which we paid a visit to. It’s not the average waterfall falling from a high cliff, this is a powerful thundering rush of water that squeezes through a narrow part of a volcanic ledge causing the water to thunder and foam. Huka is actually the maori word for foam. The water at the bottom of the fall is crystal clear and azure blue in colour, it’s very beautiful.
Not far from Huka Falls we found a free campsite for the night at Reids Farm. It was right by the Waikato River in a green lush setting, no amenities really and the toilet left less to be desired, but when it’s free that doesn’t really matter.
The following day we went on the look out for these natural hot springs, complete with a hot waterfall that some of our friends had told us about. Just off the Spa Road there is a wonderful little spot on the Waikato River, it has a hot thermal spring that falls into the river in a little pool, making the water steamy hot and perfect to just sit in. It was pure bliss to sit there in the hot water under the hot waterfall and aid our somewhat still sore legs from our Tongariro trek. This was the only natural hot spring that we found and best of all, it was free!