Our beautiful Pukawa haven is perfectly located. It’s in a quiet little settlement, close to a great swimming beach and feels like it is a world away. Perfect for relaxing, slipping into holiday mode and leaving time behind you.
But if you’re looking for a little more adventure, Taupo is only a 50 minute drive away. So today we head out to explore the area. The lake is looking amazing, people are out enjoying lakeside walks, parasailing, kayaking and boating. On the way in we notice a Sunday Market across the road from the lake front so we go and check it out. The sun’s shining, music is playing and there is a great selection of stalls to look at; a range of local arts and crafts as well as some yummy artisan foods. We sample wines, chocolates and honey mead. But the stall I spend the longest at is a jewellery stand with some gorgeous earrings. I haven’t worn earrings since lockdown, but I couldn’t resist getting a couple of pairs. Check out Alliemay Designs.
We then head on to Huka Falls. This is a busy attraction, the car park is really full and we drive 3 loops before we find a park. But it’s worth it. Huka falls is a waterfall, but not just any waterfall, the amount of water that passes over the falls is so impressive – more than 220,000 liters per second comes crashing over the 11 meter falls. The sounds and power of the water is something else. And it’s gorgeous – ice blue in colour. There are many viewing points on the walkway which allows you to view it from different angles. At one stage I feel moisture in the air, little drops of water that are splashing up from the falls below, an indication of how powerful the force of the water is. At the end of the walk, where the waterfall is, a jet boat comes speeding up. It does a 360 before coming right up to close to the falls, it would be an impressive view from down there.
From here we head to Craters of the Moon, a geothermal walk. I remember going here when I was a teenager. We have a photo of me engulfed in steam. So I guess I was a little disappointed as most of the walk wasn’t like this. It takes about an hour to walk around the loop track, which is a mixture of gravel path and boardwalks. There is a viewing platform at the start that offers views out across the park and pockets of steam rising out of the land.
The foliage around the park is quite unique. Being so hot, regular trees don’t grow here. Instead there is lots of scrubby, low lying bush and moss. I am surprised at how little sulphur I can smell, normally places with lots of geothermal activity have a strong smell that accompanies it. There are several mud craters with viewing platforms, positioned so you get some great views of the thermal activity. Some are hissing, some a bubbling away, it’s a very unique landscape.
The most impressive was a 3 minute walk up some steep steps to a lookout. There are 2 craters, the first is steaming away but average in size. An information board tells us this used to be the main crater but a landslide buried most of it and a new crater opened to release the pressure and steam. This one is intense. The viewing platform gets quite close to it. It doesn’t take long before I am engulfed in steam. I can feel the intensity of the heat on the back of my legs, my sun glasses steam up and the railing is incredibly hot. This crater was certainly a highlight.
After some lunch we make a trip to the Huka Honey Hive. Bees are the most fascinating creatures. If you ever have the opportunity to visit a honey place I would highly recommend it, the way they operate their hive, the tasks they do, it is really interesting. There are a variety of honey based products on offer to purchase along with free honey tastings. I always just think of honey being honey, but when you start trying them you realise how different in flavour they are depending on which flowers the bees have collected pollen from. My favourite is the meadow honey, made from pollen collected from local wild flowers. Lachie’s favourite is a ginger honey. Interesting that a 4 year old would love something with such a strong ginger taste.
It’s a hot day, so on the way home we call into the picturesque little bay, Hatepe, for a swim. Dad used to come here for summer holidays when he was a kid and is enjoying reminiscing. It’s nice to make new memories, but also to go back and visit places where special memories were made, no matter how long ago. It’s quite a stony beach, I struggle getting in, its not very nice under my feet and its a very shallow bay. I have to walk for ages to get even waist deep. But it is so refreshing and the dip in the cool lake water is worth the effort getting in. Before we head back home, we sit on the shore, enjoying the stillness, the quiet and the beauty around us.