After an unsuccessful laundry attempt the night before, Laura was up at 6.30am to get the washing on! Crazy, but much needed after the humid sweatiness of Singapore drenched more clothes than we expected to use!
After dragging my ass out of bed at 8.30am to offer Laura moral support for the laundry efforts, we wandered down to Hot Water Beach to see the hot spring pools that give the beach it’s name. 2 hours either side of low tide give you the opportunity to dig down into the sand at which point the hot water from the geothermal springs bubbles up and fills your newly dug sand pit.
The only problem with this, is that the area that this occurs in becomes rammed with people so, after Laura and I wandered up and casually dipped our toes into someone else’s pool to confirm that the water is indeed warm, we headed off in the opposite direction to the crowds and paddled through the surf along the waters edge. At the other end of the beach we also happened to find a lovely little cafe so had our morning coffee and hot chocolate overlooking the sea. Idyllic.
Next stop was Lake Taupo a good few hours drive away, so we settled into the van and got some tunes on. Laura snoozed, I sang. Along the route to Taupo was Craters on the Moon – a small 2.5km walk in a geothermal area that was inadvertently created in the 1950s by some hapless humans as a byproduct of the Wairakei Geothermal Power Station. The construction drastically altered the underground hydro-dynamics and a number of fumaroles, vents and pits of bubbling mud sprang to life. I’ll save the lecture on Man’s ability to screw things up for another day!
Having had our fill of steaming ground and the smell of ‘rotten egg’ from the sulphurous mud pools, we made our way to the Huka Falls.
It’s only 11m high, but over 220,000 litres of water pass through it every second (according to Laura’s research). The roar from the falls can be heard as soon as you step out of the van and increases steadily as you follow the trail. Photos don’t do it justice, it has to be seen to be believed. It’s amazing and I was mesmerised by it.
We made it to Lake Taupo at sunset but on the drive Laura had been reading the guidebook and noticed we were in the area of the Tongariro alpine crossing. On reading the description we just had to do it, cue a last minute change of plans, phone calls to guides and a 5.30am alarm clock! Parking the van up in Turangi an hour south of Taupo we had enough time to buy some provisions for the following day and scoff some pasta before trying to get some sleep! 5.30am – for anyone that knows me, I’m not a morning person – this could get ugly!