Just had a quick trip to Taupo, middle of the North Island and a rather large lake caused by one of the world's biggest volcanic explosions (AD 186). Long time past, but this is an area with lots of scenic thermal activity. We (Carol, Pat and Pete Thomas) ambled north for 5 hours and stayed at a motel on Lake Taupo for a couple of nights. Lovely hot spa, outdoor heated pool and thermal heating for the floor. Drove past the three snow covered mountains in the middle of the island, and got a spectacular view from the road and across the lake by the motel: Ruapehu is a sprawling brute of a mountain; Ngauruhoe is a classic cone volcano; Tongariro is a rounded hill-like mountain.
Drove through much timber country and paddocks full of sheep gathered for lambing. Spotted one early lamb. Lots of agricultural towns, including Bulls (toted as the only place in the world you get milk from bulls), and chock a block with puns, e.g. the town like no udder, the affordabull shop, the responsibull litter bin, the no bull real estate agent (uh huh).
There are plenty of quirky things on the Wellington-Taupo drive, like Mangaweka International Airport (small town with a cafe that is a suspended DC3); Peka Peka Beach ( where Jonathon Livingstone penguin came ashore two weeks ago); wild horses on the Desert Road; and the giant corrugated iron gumboot sculptures at Taihape.
At Taupo, we paid pilgrimmage to the violent tumble of Huka Falls and had a stroll through one of many thermal areas, Craters of the Moon. Very steamy, which was nice 'cause the day was cool and breezy and the steam warmed us up. Given what you walk on across the whole volcanic central plateau - very hot stuff, very close - people are quite calm really. Having said that haha, today at about 3pm the North Island had a good shake that rolled bookshelves in Wellington Central Library. Centred near Taupo it was 6.2, but deep, about 150km down. Minor damage across the lower half of the North Island. We were driving home and didn't feel it.
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