Writing on the Wall – Taupo, New Zealand

Arrived in Taupo and checked into discover I was in the same room as Nir, an old friend from Noosa. In keeping with tradition, we invited him and Mosh along with us for a walk to the Huka Falls. We laughed that every time I see him, I am on my way for a walk.

It was misting a bit so we took our rain suits but turned out we didn`t need them after all. First we watched the Bungee Jump which is 45 meters high. From here you get a gorgeous view overlooking the cliffs and cool blue Waikato River. We met Dutch Frans and asked him if he would like to join us on our “tramp”. A tramp is what they call a hike or nature walk in New Zealand.

So we were 6 as we trudged along through lush green forests listening to the curious bird songs. We came to the point where steaming hot water cascades down a waterfall intersecting with the cool river water creating yet another natural spa. We joined the many others in the stream for a break from our exhilarating walk. Every so often, the water would get really hot or really cold according to the current. We lounged in the river watching the occasional cloud give us a brief leave from the hot beaming sun. Ah…to be one with nature.

We then resumed our hike stopping to admire the divine river views. We reached Huka Falls (Maori for “Great Body of Spray”) and I was amazed at how clear turquoise the water was. Together with the great mountains and vibrant greenery, I was tempted to jump into the powerful rapids. I just wanted to feel it!

Next we debated on continuing on to Craters of the Moon but it was getting quite late so we opted to walk back and drive there. This is one of the few times that the walk back seemed longer than the walk there but it was good fun. We hopped into the car making the short drive to Craters of the Moon in a race against the heavy rain clouds making their way into our area.

I expected to see something of a moon terrain but instead there were huge blackened craters releasing dense clouds of hot steam. There was much new plant growth as well as gurgling hot red mud pools. You could hear the bubbles but you couldn`t see through the billowing puffs emerging from some of the larger craters. There were tons of signs warning not to leave the paths as this is a very dangerous thermal area. We made it back to the car just in time as the big wet droplets of rain splashed down.

Before leaving the backpacker the next morning, I was overjoyed when they encouraged me to write on the wall. This was their larger than life version of a guest book tradition. I was timid as I remember very clearly getting in big trouble for drawing with magic marker all over the kitchen walls when I was 4. I felt naughty as I excitedly scribbled a note before heading off…a childhood fantasy fulfilled.

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