Friday, February 21, 2014

New Zealand Day 11: Taupo and Fixing the Van

After the inauspicious end to our drive to Taupo the night before, we knew that our priority for the day would be getting the van to a mechanic again. Alex spoke with the folks from our motorhome company and also from the local Ford place and they told him to bring it over.

While Alex coordinated, B and I had a fairly adversarial violin practice. Then it was off into town. 

Oh look! We must be in the right place! Those are the volcanoes looming over the south end of Lake Taupo, including Mt. Ngauruhoe (the perfect cone used as Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings Movies).

The mechanics hooked up their diagnostic device—but most importantly, the van actually obliged by doing its idle-stall thing for them. We were sent off to wander the town while they tried some quick-ish fix things.

We found a great playground just down the street from the iSite, so I went off to obtain postcards and local info and B and Alex got some playground time.

We also saw this store. Perhaps I should've stopped for a makeover?

Then we went to this Rough Guide recommended café, which was terrific:

Thus fortified, we headed down to the harbor, where B was fascinated by watching some black swans.

The Ford place called with good news, and we meandered our way back along the beach, getting a good eyeful of the Ironman swim course. Ironman is just a week and a half away! I wish our itinerary had worked out for us to be in town to watch.

With a functioning campervan, it was time to head back to the north end of town to see a couple of the sights. 

First up was Huka Falls, where the water coming out of Lake Taupo gets forced into this gorge. Yes, it really is that blue.

B informed me that she was going to buy a wedding dress this color.

Apparently the falls put out 200,000 liters per second, enough to fill 5 Olympic swimming pools each minute.

Then we went a bit further downstream (actually north) to Aratiatia Rapids. The Waikato River gets dammed up in between Huka and Aratiatia (the Waikato River produces about 15% of the country's power over its entire course to the coast) and the dam releases several times a day, creating temporary rapids through a gorge.

There's a countdown timer to the release. As you can see, we cut it pretty close:

Here are the gates, pre-opening:

And then from downstream viewing, gorgeous turbulent high water after the release:

Same area, calming down again after the gates closed:

Looking downstream at high water:

 Lowering water again. Lovely and clear as it calmed:

It was getting late in the day and B was getting cranky (it was hot!!!) so we scrapped a plan to see Craters of the Moon and headed south around the lake towards Tongariro National Park. The weather forecast was looking pretty sweet for Friday so I called ahead to the Discovery Lodge to book Alex onto the early shuttle for the Tongariro Crossing.

As we drove out to the Discovery Lodge, we got this lovely closer-up view of Mt. Doom and also saw that there were areas up on the shoulder of the volcanoes that were venting steam. Yikes!

Here's our campsite at Discovery:

With Mt. Ruapehu (the North Island's main ski mountain) behind.

Yay for the mountains! And happy to report no more stalling issues with van.

No comments: