• Day34

    Huka Prawns and Falls

    August 12, 2015 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 7 °C

    We left Napier campsite without breakfast aiming to stop at the first cafe we saw out of town. I emptied the dirty water (tough to get the cap back on( the toilet canister (still only wees) and we filled up the fresh water ( Sam got quite wet when the tank filled and spurted out).

    First stop was petrol, with warning light on and messages on the dashboard. Had tough job getting diesel cap on and off, but managed it. Filled up and went into pay, but attendant said there was nothing showing on my pump number 7. after bit of investigation turns out a previous customer had paid for number 7 rather than number 6 (think he was a regular) as the amount had been similar. So we paid for number 6, which was 4 or 5 dollars less than we had had.

    Ten minutes down the road stopped at a cafe, service wasn't great, they didn't seem to hear our requests for toasted sandwiches and there were few seats so we took food and drinks back into the camper. This was good as Tash had declared she ddn't like anything in the shop, but she coulkd have some cereal in the van.

    We then pressed on the couple of hours to Taupo. Some fairly high ascents and descents, with main problem being a car driver in front who was driving cautiously in terms of speed round corners, but also erratically in terms of not staying on our side of the road. Eventually we used a passing lane to overtake up a hill.

    In Taupo we headed straight for the Huka Falls Jet, which turned out to be right next to the Huka Prawn Park, another attraction we intended to visit. We arrived just beofre midday and the first jet boat available was at 2pm, so we booked it and headed into the prawn park.

    We were given guided tour of the facility - pump room where geothermal 90 degree ater from the power plant next door is used to heat the river water to keep the external prawn pools at 28 degrees. We then saw the breeding tanks, where the prawns are sed solely for breeding not eating. Then on to the tanks of baby prawns. We were given handfuls of food and dipped our hands into the tank and the small prawns (about an inch or two long) swam onto our hands and ate the food pellets. They tickled as they walked across your hand and nibbled at the food. I ended up with a dozen or so on my hand, very tickly.

    Then off to the ponds where the public can use a cane and a hook to fish for prawn, keeping whatever you catch to be cooked in the restaurant or taken home in ice. Bait was chunks of chopped up ox heart. Dipping the bait in and letting it rest on the bottom lead to the prawns grabbing it with their claws and tugging sharply on the line and cane. You had to allow them to run off a bit with it and wait a minute or two until they had eaten the bait and the hook before pulling them in. This proved tough and most times, whilst we got bites and strong tugs on the bait we either pulled it up too soon before the hook had gone in, or the prawn took the bait from the hook without getting caught. I managed to catch one big prawn early on and we put it in the little bucket of iced water we were given which sent them into a kind of sleep. The hook was tough to remove. We spent about an hour fishing then handed the rods back and the prawn was saved in the bucket until we returned after our baot ride.

    We got life jacketed and put iont e boat and away we went. This seemed to be the fastest we had been and the driver certainly did the fastest spins and we got very wet, especially Ed, who had asked to sit back left to get as wet as possible (think he was wetter than he expected). Highlight of the trip was going up to the Huka Falls, where we got right into the swirling water that had come through. we were told the Falls were running faster than they ever had in recent times due to all the rain and snow melt, the noise and the power of the water was fierce.

    Back to base after a few more spins and almost hitting a black swan and we then returned to our prawn fishing with no luck until we were just about to leave when Ed caught one. We took them to the restaurant just before it closed and ordered some extra food. Our prawns came on a separate plate (3 as someone had caught one and not wanted it) nd the waitress did comment on how large the one I had caught was.

    Food was tasty then we headed up the road to see the falls from land. The power was even more apparent here as you crossed the bridge over the gorge and walked down to the viewing points - very spectacular in terms of the power, quite different to the more attractive but less powerful falls we had seen in the South Island to date.

    We then drove back through town to Debretts our campsite. Sam had made contact with Jen, Matthew from Ed's class's mum about meeting up. The kids had gone to the jumping pillow and Sam and I were surprised by Jen, Matthew and her friend Trudy appearing in front of the van. I took Matthew off to play with Ed and Tash and we chatted with the others in the van until they really had to go (they had gone out for wine and chips and just called in as passing). We arranged to meet them for dinner the following evening and might do mini golf with them if we think Ed will play nice!
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