We woke up in our ever so tiny motel room and quickly got ready to head out. Wahoo for sunshine and slightly warmer weather! Before starting our hike, we decided to get a simple breakfast at the Zest Cafe, a small cafe in Taupo which has a lovely atmosphere and delicious breakfast food.
Taupo's Thermal Springs
We started off in the parking lot of the Spa Park and began our adventure. First stop was the hot spring pools. I wasn't so sure we would actually be able to dip in, but I decided to go prepared with everyone's swimsuits just in case the sun actually decided to shine a little brighter. The walk from the parking lot to the hot springs was a reasonably short one and the views were gorgeous.
Once at the hot springs, we saw a few people who seemed to be having a great time. That was enough for us to want to check it out for ourselves. Even if we wanted to skip it, I don't think the kids would have let us walk by without playing for a bit. The water coming down the waterfalls was actually quite warm... like almost hot tub hot... Definitely a lot warmer than I thought it would be. I wasn't sure how Hannah was going to like it, she is not a big fan of hot hot water. Meanwhile, Kian was having a blast because he loves HOT water! Hannah got used to the temperatures quickly and had a lot of fun pretending to be a mermaid, sitting on a rock. Oh to be 3! :)
The thing with hot springs is that you can't plan to hang out in them forever. After a just a little while you start feeling hot and uncomfortable, and that's exactly how the kids started feeling. For those looking to stay longer, you can take a break from the hot water and swim in an area where the hot springs join into the larger, normal temperature river. This creates an interesting mix of cold water at the bottom and warm water at the top, but the current was too strong for the kids and so we didn't stay too long.
With everyone back in regular clothes, we hiked on to our next destination, Huka Falls. This was a lengthy hike, and we met people along the way who told us it was likely too far for the kids. But for better or worse, we are stubborn and we know what our kids are capable of, even if that means tolerating some whining. The views along the way were magnificent. The beautiful water in New Zealand will never cease to amaze me, and the water here was amongst the most beautiful we had seen.
After walking for quite so time, we finally reached the glorious Huka Falls! Oh my goodness! The power and rage with which that crystal clear blue water rushes through is absolutely breathtaking.
We learned that about 200,000 liters of water plunge 9 meters over the great rock face of Huka Falls every second - that's enough to fill 5 olympic size swimming pools every minute! Can you imagine?! After enjoying the remarkable views, we had a lovely picnic snack/lunch. It was getting really hot and we were practically out of water for the hike back down! Oops! Thankfully, we realized that there was a store over the bridge that sold ice cream and water! Hurrah!
Originally, we had considered hiking even further to see the craters of the moon, which is a unique geothermal landscape featuring craters of boiling mud and steam vents. However, when we realized that would likely take 2 additional hours and wasn't free, so we decided to cross it off our list and just head back down to the carpark.
The walk back was a bit quicker, thank you downhills, and since we had plenty of water we were all much happier. The kids somehow had enough energy to spend about half an hour playing in a playground right next to the parking lot. I was, as the British say, cream-crackered!
Huka Honey Hive
We managed to peel the kids off the playground by telling them that we were going to check out a honey store. We arrived at the Huka Honey Hive about an hour before closing. It is a wonderful place with a lot of information about honeybees, a variety of honey, and interesting products made of honey! Everything in the store was very pricey, but all the information was free, and they even had some free samples :). HoneyBees are such smart and hardworking creatures! We watched the bees for a while and tried to find the queen bee, and then we had some honey ice cream. Yum!
I probably would have bought a jar of honey, if we were not getting on an airplane in 3 days. Even if they do allow it through customs, we just never have extra space! We did get to sample a few different types of honey and mmm mmm they were all delicious! Overall, it was a lovely experience and I am glad we made it there before it closed.
Our drive to our nightly accommodation was only half an hour. This time we had a slightly larger room attached to a restaurant. We weren't quite sure what to expect when we checked in, but the owner was a lovely old man who welcomed us in and explained everything. It was sort of like a bed and breakfast except that we could actually get dinner right there at the restaurant too. Worked for us. The kids had fun trying to play pool while we waited for the food. I am not sure how after the day we had we still had time and energy, but we still managed to fit in a movie on the laptop before going to sleep! :)
Tomorrow we are going across the street to check out the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. I am really excited to check it all out. We are going to try and wake up early enough to get good seats to see the eruption of Lady Knox Geyser.
Elmer the Elf's Update
Elmer found us in our teenie tiny room! Can you spot him right above the TV? Oh and that's pretty much the entire room! I told you it was tiny! :)