Leaving Taupo and finding Napier

We loved Lake Taupo and it felt so hard to leave … no-one else was checking in that day so Marki had said to take our time …. and so we did!! And still long chats before we actually got in the car … and fond farewells.

We still had a couple of local places to visit before leaving this area – our first stop was Huka Falls. We started off with the lookout point – wow, just incredible. The colour and the speed of the water was outstanding, the width of the river coming into the falls gave it such an incredible pace like you’ve never seen.

We then decided to take a walk that indicated 2 hours there and back. Just as we were setting off we caught a view of the jet boat rides that come up to the falls. Maybe another time!!

It was a beautiful walk though woodland, riverside and then some more dusty type terrain – a real variety. Also a lot of climbing involved … and it was a fairly hot day … but we persevered!!! After somewhat more than an hour of ‘out’ walking we had still not reached the turnaround destination, so we made the ‘magnanimous’ decision to turn back before it turned into a 4 hour walk!! We talked to a few other walkers along the way who seemed equally lost!

Greg had dutifully made up a delicious picnic lunch before we left, so we hunted for a picnic table at the end of the walk – for the ‘most visited’ scenic attraction in New Zealand – they only had 4 picnic tables – and they happened to all be taken! So we took a short drive onto our next destination which was the ‘Crater of Moons’ – another geothermal area with active craters… and yes, it did look just like the moon. There was one solitary picnic table just by the car park so we ‘literally’ ran to stake our claim to it as soon as we arrived. Then we entered the ‘moon.’

Then we left Taupo to head for Napier … and what a spectacular drive. We’re putting in some miles on this trip (and so grateful to our two long-suffering drivers – Steve and Greg) but the views along the way are indescribably fabulous. Huge majestic mountains, thickly covered in dense forest – makes them look all soft and fluffy. Then at times the hills are grass covered and quite yellow from their recent drought. The hills are so plentiful too, like constant bumps – presumably it’s do with being volcanic. And gorgeous waterfalls – you can never get enough of these.

Everywhere you look too you will see sheep, cows or goats scattered along the hillsides, completing these pretty pictures. One unexpected sight along this route was a fully decorated Christmas tree at the roadside – fir trees are in abundance and clearly this one had been kitted out for the festive season … but it now being February, nobody had thought to remove the baubles!! I have actually noticed this a lot, both in Australia and New Zealand, that they don’t go for the 6th January thing – there are many Santas, trees, bows and tinsel still remaining!!

And so we continued to make our way up and down the spiralling mountain roads, frequently passing huge logging trucks who would whizz past at great speed. It is so interesting to witness the logging industry in this part of the world. Marki and Chris told us that we would pass one tea house along the way … and we found it, in fact we arrived just in time before closing … again it was a quick dash in before they could draw the blind on the door!! So cream teas all round – yum!

We arrived at our hotel in Napier by late afternoon – so nice to unpack knowing we had 3 nights here – it was actually worth unpacking!! Looking forward to exploring this exquisite Art Deco town over the next few days. Sadly bad weather has set in … but we must carry on regardless, after all we’re British!

Took a stroll down the main seafront – some great bars and restaurants – loads of backpackers’ haunts. Had a huge pub meal and then a couple of drinks in a really interesting bar called the Masonic Hotel – beautifully interior designed Art Deco style and cabinets full of collections.

Hoping the sunshine returns tomorrow ☀️

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