Day 6 - The Tour to Taupo


Day 1 - Arrival
Day 2 - Raglan to Urenui
Day 3 - The Long Road to Levin
Day 4 - A Day with Granny
Day 5 - A Wellington Wander
Day 6 - The Tour to Taupo
Day 7 - Rolling to Rotarua
Day 8 - The Redolence of Rotorua
Day 9 - The Beach at Bowentown
Day 10 - Outtrip to Ohope
Day 11 - Meander over McLaren Falls
Day 12 - Mission to Mt. Manganui
Day 13 - Shopping the Strand
Day 14 - Wistful in Whangamata
Day 15 - Cruising to Coromandel
Day 16 - On the Road to Orere Point
Day 17 - Departure

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.

Mona Stanton and her grandson. Alex and Great-Granny Stanton snuggle up for a picture.
The eldest and youngest of the family pose for a picture. One last pose...

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.

On the drive north, we spot this railway bridge high up in the air - easily two hundred feet up. And then a train crossed it! A 200 year old church in a tiny town, distinctively different from everything around it.
On the desert highway - straight, flat, tedious. Mount Tongariro is in the distance, clouds tearing off its peak. Shrouded in cloud as we pass by on the desert highway, Ngauruhoe is a perfect cone volcano.

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.

Another perfect parking job... right in a big grass field. On the stony beach, a panoramic shot of Lake Taupo (1/7).
Panorama (2/7), you can see how stony the beach is. Panorama (3/7) plant life growing on the beach and in the water.
Panorama (4/7), looking west across the lake. Panorama (5/7), a look at the island near the center of the lake.
Panorama (6/7), looking almost north, the city of Taupo is at the north end of the lake. Panorama (7/7), up the beach, the girls check out the water.

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...

Check it out! Rocks that float! Does mom float too? No, she's sitting on a "real" rock...
Exploring along the beach for more weird stuff... ...meantime, back at the camper...

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.

Everybody climbs out once we're parked at the camp site. Another great parking job! There were a number of other campers around the area.
Hiking down to the hot springs. Near the entrance was this water fall, Stacy checks the temperature of the water ("like a bath!").

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.