• Day213

    Hawkes Bay to Taupo

    April 7, 2017 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 61 °F

    The sunshine after the rain finally came yesterday late afternoon. We spent most of the day driving up from Wellington, On the way we encountered our first "traffic jam" since arriving in NZ - it was due to roadworks and lasted only about 20 seconds! If only we had so little traffic in Britain.... We also passed some Scandinavian influenced settlements on the way up - with Vikings on their town signs and Nordic sounding place names - unexpected! It was nice to be able to visit a few of the Hawkes Bay wineries in the sun when we arrived. We again tasted some good wines and saw plenty of grapes ready for the harvest, plus some recently harvested and just starting their fermentation. We saw plenty of fruit trees growing in this area too, again almost ready for the harvest - it must be a particularly fertile area. We spent the night in a motel in Hastings and had dinner at a Mongolian BBQ restaurant. Solana has suddenly decided that she doesn't want to eat meat any more because she really likes animals - an unexpected decision, but we're going with it and will see how long it lasts.... She still seems happy to eat squid though - maybe that is not an animal in her mind?!

    This morning we drove to Napier, a town on the coast of Hawkes Bay. There was a big earthquake here in the 1920s and most of the buildings were destroyed, then rebuilt in art deco style. We found a great kids play park on the seafront, treated ourselves to an ice-cream from the myriad of flavours on offer and picked up picnic supplies. The 4th photo here, of Solana, was taken in the ice-cream parlour - with a clever ice-cream cone picture on the wall, all made out of ice-cream scoops. We were unable to get accommodation in Hawkes Bay for tonight (due to a big concert at the weekend), so we decided to head up to the Lake Taupo area for the night (which we hadn't been planning to visit, so it is a "bonus" place for us!). We are staying in a basic campsite cabin in the town of Taupo, on the shores of Lake Taupo, which is the largest lake in NZ. The lake is apparently formed in the crater of one of the largest volcanoes in the world. It apparently erupted 26,500 years ago with a force much greater than Krakatoa; the ash cloud was supposedly so high that it could be seen by the Chinese and even the Romans. It hasn't erupted for about 1800 years but this is a big geothermal area, so it is definitely not an extinct volcano - thus, although it is beautiful, we're not sure it is a town that we would choose to actually live in.... When we arrived we went up to see Huka Falls - an amazing bit of white river and waterfall where the river is squeezed between narrow rocks. Apparently 200,000 litres of water goes over the falls every second - pretty impressive (I have included a photo here but it doesn't really do the power of the place justice). These falls lie on the longest river in NZ, the Waikato. There is plenty to do around this area so we plan to stay for at least part of the day tomorrow and explore some more.
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