Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Weekend in a Volcano
Well, not in a volcano, exactly... We went to Taupo, which is a large lake covering what is known to be a rather large volcano. It is NZ's biggest lake, and its major claim to fame are the monster rainbow trout found in it.
The 6.5-hour bus ride there meant that we arrived late Friday night (2am Saturday morning, to be exact). Our hostel was lovely, and fairly inexpensive. What was neat about it was that it was one of the few hostels I have ever visited that had ALL ages of guests, even a few families. Saturday's weather was stunning, and just like summer.
It was just what I needed after the long grey days in Wellington. Dave took the opportunity to go skydiving, but I decided to save all death-risk-y activities until my second excursion out of Wellington. So, I caught up with the sunshine and read a good chunk of my amazing new book, "American Gods".
Sunday, we were not so lucky with the weather. Too bad we'd planned all our activities for that day, and it was our only full day left in town. So, rainjackets fastened on, we braved the elements to see Taupo's sights.
1) Craters of the Moon.
Not nearly as cheesy as it sounds, it is a super-awesome sight to behold. Magma heats the underground water, causing big craters to gush steam at all hours.
It was like a movie set. In fact, Dave and I enjoyed doing a two-person Lord of the Rings re-enactment. Here is a picture of us, trying to look like we're on some kind of quest. Clearly, with my comparatively feminine looks, I was Frodo. Good thing that my ring is considerably less evil.
2) Next, we moved on to the dam opening. Most of NZs' electricity is obtained through natural means, and this dam is a great example of it. Three times daily, it releases built-up water into the neighbouring stream. The results are most dramatic. Adding to the sense of alien beauty is the profusion of black swans in the bay. They are beautiful creatures, and I have not ever seen them outside of a zoo. It is said that their wings are strong enough to fracture the leg of a large human male. Luckily, Dave had me there to defend him. ;-)
3) Huka Falls. By this time we are totally drenched, with the notable exceptions of two dry spots beneath each knee. Apparently, that is just how hardcore we are walking. The falls are marvellous, and we hike in the nearby rainforest awhile to look at the neat birds and plants. There was one bird I couldnt really identify, but from its showy, erratic flying pattern, she seemed to be distracting us from a nest. Funny, you travel halfway around the world, and birds still act like they do in St. Adolphe.
4) Taupo Hot Springs. A perfect destination for a day of being cold and soggy. The whole days' stresses melted away in the lovely hot pools which we so greatly needed. Especially since even the insides of our backpack got soaked... I have discovered a whole new level of discomfort, and it is putting on a sopping wet, cold bathing suit in a cold changing room. But again, nothing the hot springs didnt remedy right quick.
Then home we went, exhausted and adventured-out, where we treated ourselves to a rebelliously un-cultural meal of Burger King, and a night at the movies. We saw a cute movie called Sione's Wedding, a NZ comedy which I highly recommend. But, thats enough for now! :-)