Monday, February 6, 2017

North Island NZ

We've joined the hordes of our fellow Canberra-ites trying out the new Singapore Airlines direct flights to Wellington, New Zealand. We even have a new International departure lounge at our beautiful Canberra Airport - so exciting.
In less than three hours we'd landed at Wellington Airport and were on our way in our Corolla rental heading north along Highway1towards Levin. It was a pretty easy hour and a half drive through some amazing landscapes, driving alongside the Kapiti Coast looking out to the Tasman Sea to the west with rolling green hills and copses of pine trees undulating as far as the eye could see ahead and around us.

No one would choose to stay in Levin for its scenic qualities but it was the only place we could get a room on our way to Lake Taupo on this busy long weekend in NZ. However we were happy with our little log cabin at the Welcome Inn and our Kapiti Coast brewed beer and meal at the cute and character filled cinema cafe in central Levin.
We headed further north from Levin this morning along Highway 1 making our first stop at Taihape (of gumboot throwing fame) and then Turangi for lunch.  The landscape was quite different today..... but still very green, lots of pine forests, and infrequent small settlements along the highway.

As we got closer to the southern boundary of the Tongarira National Park the landscape flattened out and started to look more arid. Then we had these amazing views of Mt Ruapehu......

 and then Mt Ngaunuhoe - looking just as high - but no remnant snow..

The small township of Turangi is at the southern most point of Lake Taupo - a perfect place to stop for lunch...which we enjoyed in the tiny rose garden of the Mustard Seed Cafe.

 Roses obviously grow well on the North Island......
It's only a 5 minute drive out of Turangi to the thermal pools of Tukaana. We got out of the car at the visitor's car park to be met by this sign and this pool of steaming, gurgling water....
The Tukaana thermal pools comprise a tiny segment of the network of thermal pools and volcanic activity over the North Island (especially around Rotarura to the North) but in our short walk today we saw some amazing sights..... In years gone by Moari tribes used these pools for healthful bathing.....
 .... no doubt steering clear of these areas of boiling, steaming mud.....

While I was getting this shot, steam and boiling water started spurting out of this crack in the earth - scary!  This is how a geyser could start I guess!

This was the hottest pool of all - at least 60oC - you could do all your cooking in this one (but you wouldn't want to fall in)!

The last 40 or so kilometres we drove today was around the Eastern edge of Lake Taupo, a HUGE crater lake formed only 2000 (almost) years ago as a result of a volcanic eruption.

The pic below is the view from our room (well almost) at "Sails on the Lake". The lake and the township of Taupo are crowded today - it's a public holiday (Waitangie Day) and perfect weather!

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