Sickness has struck: when Nikki woke up for the drive to Taupo, she wasn’t feeling very well. Which meant her day in Taupo was largely spent sleeping and trying to recover.
However, I decided to venture out into the hills of Lake Taupo alone, in search of Huka Falls. The gal working at the reception desk strongly suggested I take an hour-long walking tour through town out to Huka Falls, instead of driving. The route looked great on a map–just follow the dotted line along the river. However, the start of the trail was unmarked, so after a half hour walking on what I thought was the trail, I had to backtrack. When I got on the path, there was trash all over the place, it wasn’t really that pretty of a river, and it largely passed by a sewage treatment plant. The trail also made numerous annoying forks, which were not on the map and were not marked. In the end, I gave up and went back to the hostel.
In the end, I gave in and took the car to Huka Falls. The water, infused with bubbles from the fast-moving rapids, was an unnaturally light blue. The falls were spectacular, well worth the trouble of getting there.
The next morning we left Taupo for Tongariro National Park, which was Mordor in The Lord of the Rings. We decided to take a five hour hike to the Tama Lakes, at the foot of Mt. Ngauruhoe, a.k.a. Mount Doom. Don’t worry, there was no spewing lava or prowling orcs. The scenery for most of the hike was a barren, desert-like land of alpine shrubs, and rolling ridges leading up to the base of the mountains. We saw Taranaki Falls on the way. The mountains were mostly hidden in thick clouds, but managed to come out a couple times during our hike. We were exhausted by the end of the long hike, and glad to be back.