Lake Taupo → Desert Road → Ohakune
Today we have been a bit more cultural than normal, we went off to the Haka Falls just out of Taupo, a great torrent of water flowing very fast through a narrow gorge out into a decent sized river, the falls themselves are not very high but the sheer power and speed it is flowing at is very impressing.
We then headed onto the ‘Craters of the Moon’ geothermal steam vents, it’s a nice 45min walk around the vents which are all just steaming holes in the ground and in some places just steaming ground, there was also a set of mud pools bubbling away. As we made it to the top section of the walk we saw the tallest mountains in North Island appearing in the distance and knew that we would be travelling past them today on the desert road.
After that we headed off to a glass blowing factory, the sheer variety, size, colour and shape of all of the glass was very impressive. We also went into see the guy at work creating new perfume bottles in about 15mins per bottle. It’s a great craft to watch and is, with all these types of craft, and art form that it great to watch and make you want to try it out and you know you would make a mess of it!!!
Finally we drove over to puzzle world! Now it sounds huge and great but really is a small place with a few random attractions, like a maze, mini golf course and a decent Lego display surrounded by very cool 3D pictures.
We looked at the Lego and played a quick game of mini golf (which I won, Steven second and Mikey third), then had lunch and set out to cross the Desert Road, which had been closed the past week due to all the snow and bad weather. But we were pleasantly surprised most of it had gone and the mountains were still covered completely. A small side note about the mountains is that they are in Tongariro National Park, which is where some parts of Lord of the Rings were filmed.
Most noticeably Mordor and the second highest peak (Mt Ngaruahoe) or its more famous name of Mt Doom, although more is added with CGI, and lava and evil the mountain and it’s brothers were very impressive to drive past. It is a stunning landscape across the Desert Road, as before and after it are lush and green whereas on the plateau it is bracken and moss. While stopping every so often to take pics we came across a couple setting out a picnic on a bench at one of these stops. Now it was around 5°C, we stopped for a chat while snapping away but once in the van we realised how crazy they must have been to be out there!! Oh well, they were nice and friendly, like everyone else over here, we haven’t met a moody kiwi yet!! (at least not until the rugby!!!)
This is me signing off...J