Thursday, March 21
During the previous day while we had been on our wander of Wellington, Granny Stanton had been pouring through some documents she'd found in Mervyn's collection. In the morning Richard scanned many of them - an Auckland newspaper from 1925 showing the arrival of an immigrant steamship that carried Mona, Reg and their mother, some letters of reference for Mona's father when he worked on steam ships, as a pilot and in a foundry, and even a World War II era ration book used by Mona's mother to get food for the family during the war.
Finally it was time to say goodbye and head south toward Tauranga. But first some photos of the family with Granny.
And then we were off, headed north toward Taupo. While not as long as the drive into Levin, this was a pretty long drive, through a number of small towns north of Levin, then across the desert highway and finally into Taupo itself.
Then suddenly, the desert highway ended, and after another half hour of twists and turns, we reached Lake Taupo. The lake fills a gigantic volcanic caldera that erupted a few hundred thousand years ago. Today its the largest fresh water lake in New Zealand, situated almost dead center of the North Island. We pulled off the highway to stretch our legs and check out the lake.
Almost immediately on arrival at the beach, the girls discovered that it was covered in pumice, foam-like rock formed by volcanoes that actually floats on water...
After a good break, we headed into Taupo proper. Its a lovely place, lots of beachfront cafes, families and shops. We stocked up our food supplies and the local Pak 'n Save, filled up on gas and found a wonderful RV park, right at the top of a hill overlooking the lake. This park had its own hot spring pools! After parking the camper and getting it all set up for the night, we headed down for a swim in the hot pools before dinner and bed.
The hot springs were actually a set of large swimming pools, some chlorinated, some not. We hopped between them until it started getting dark, then showered, headed back to the camper, did loads of laundry, ate dinner and off to bed. The weather had cleared up significantly, perhaps because we were in the interior, perhaps because we'd headed north. Either way, we were grateful, and felt that Taupo was the best place we'd visited so far. Unfortunately, we couldn't stay, the next day we'd head up to Rotorua.