NZ: Day 6
Leaving Wellington, the bus drove through the heartland of the North Island; The scenery throughout was stunning and despite almost the entirety of the Kiwi bus in a hungover state, many tried to force themselves to admire the surroundings.
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We arrived at Taupo in the afternoon and checked in to Urban Retreat ($22), which was small, but pretty cool- with the bunk beads arranged in loft-like dormitories; It was definitely one of the better hostels and the mainstay for those travelling with the Kiwi from South to North.
On the way up from Wellington, we were given the option to skydive later that afternoon- but as we are looping back on ourselves and spending two nights in Taupo in a weeks time we decided to avoid that for now, deciding to instead spend the afternoon exploring the small town.
Again, like Wellington, we had lucked out with our timing, as a festival was currently creating a buzz just outside the town- featuring Lynyrd Skynyrd- Sweet Home Alabama being my only knowledge of the bands existence. Before dandling over to the festival, we opted to firstly explore the lake: A lake that is larger than Singapore and the flooded cauldron to one of the world’s 5 super volcanoes. Its pretty impressive.
Armed with swimming trunks we then followed the river past the boating paddocks and up into the volcanic hills in search for the Hot Springs- a 40 minute walk from the town. We past a couple of small geysers on the way and passed the Taupo Bungee Jump- New Zealand’s highest, water touching Bungee. The bungee was closed, but peering over from the cliff-edge gave us an idea of just how insane the World famous Nevis jump in Queenstown is going to be!!
We eventually made it to the Hot-Springs, a main attraction in Taupo and hit with many of the locals and visitors. It was pretty busy- mostly with teenagers with beers in hand- unfortunately we hadn’t come quite so well prepared. The springs were great though- a hot rush of volcanic water that flows down the rocks into an ice-cold lake. We spent about an hour relaxing in the springs and lake, which were made even more enjoyable by infrequent showers of rain.
Back at the hostel, we made dinner, had a few drinks and chilled out. We had bought our own alcohol into the kitchen/common area and sat and had a few, before being snitched up by some douche- We were made aware that you’re not allowed your own alcohol in hostels!
The guy at reception though, was a lot more relaxed on the issue, safe-keeping our stash and letting us drink it outside on the green. His advice was to actually head to the springs at midnight as its a popular place for people to drink under the moonlight; Sounded pretty cool, but we decided to head to the ‘street’ which houses about 3 pubs and the Base Hostel Bar- the most popular place with the Kiwi bus. With the exception of the Irish Bar which was pretty full with older people from the Skynyrd concert, it was fairly quiet; Surprising as Taupo is considered the ‘Adventure Capital of the North’!
We were to head North to Rotorua in the morning and revisit Taupo on our return loop- where we intend to skydive and climb Mount Doom!
Urban Retreat Hostel: $22 NZ/ £11 p/n ***
Hot Springs: Free ****