A Travellerspoint blog

Day 15 Taupo to Horohoro

Lakes and Hobbit country

sunny 30 °C
View The Millie's Tour around NZ on Mike.millington's travel map.

Some sort of camp fire alarm went off at the crack of dawn and left Mel awake from then on! The rest of us slept on until a tractor with a lawn mower started doing laps up and down the field.

Beautiful morning though with no wind, which made for a change! So we had breakfast outside Big Blue before the kids went scampering off to play on the swings and hammocks.

Mel packed up and I brought down the tent and washed up.

This was a pretty good campsite and I certainly think that 3 out of the 4 of us enjoyed it. The jury remains out on the 4th as I could hear muttering in the background!!

Lake Taupo looked inviting, so we drove out of the site and up the road for a quick dip off one of the jetty's.

Very refreshing for me Aimee and Ollie. Mel stayed in the van desperate to get to a place called 'hot water beach' on the shores of lake Taupo.

I could see what was going through her mind and knew it would end in disappointment.

So we pulled up to the beach with a few people swimming in the lake, Mel flew out of the van and down to the shores expecting jacuzzi style temperatures!! The shock and sudden gasp as she stepped in was amusing for all to see!

The waters are only slightly warmer than those me and kids had been used to on mount cook, so Mel's planned swim was immediately off the cards.

This part of the beach is supposed to be warmed by thermal springs from underground. Unfortunately it only warms this part by a fraction of a degree!!

That said if you stood in the water with your feet buried in the sand you could feel the warmth from the earth below.

After a brief dip for me and the kids, we jumped back in the van and drove to the centre of Taupo for a spot of lunch. Instead of a cafe or restaurant we found a great little park for the kids to play in while Mel grabbed some sandwiches.

Next stop was a place called Huka falls, just on the outskirts of Taupo. This had a superb waterfall and rapids, with the wind albeit gone and clear blue sky's, it was really hot, and all we wanted to do was jump in the river.  Unfortunately with all the fences and fast moving water we weren't allowed.

We hung around here for a while and grabbed a few photo's and watched one of the jet boats go tearing up the river with screaming passengers!!

So to the bit Mel had been looking forward to all trip, Treetops. She'd had this booked for ages, it's an exclusive country retreat lodge just outside Rotorua in a placed called Horohoro.

This was a place for all sorts of country sports,  and from i could tell it all seemed to involve killing things, and if you weren't killing things then you were only photographing them before someone else shot them!

Anyway as we got closer we realised this place really was in the middle of nowhere. We seemed to head down kilometre after kilometre of dirt track through Hobbit country.

When we reached the entrance there was a huge gate with two massive metal sculptured stags either side. We felt a little out of place in Big Blue as it was more Land Rover country. Anyway a friendly voice let us in and told us to wait at the gate.

I was close on the Land Rover front, someone turned up in an Range Rover and showed us to our accommodation. This was a 3 bedroom wooden lodge set in the forest. I'm sure some little guy called Baggin's used to live here!

It was a beautiful spot, the lodge was fantastic although a little dated in the kitchen. It was bright yellow and had 3 ducks flying up the wall, very 1970's.

We settled in and unpacked. There was loads to see an do here on the estate, with plenty of wild life and walks, however we were all roasting hot so first stop was one of the fresh water lakes for a swim to cool off.

Heading there we drove past a field of stags with huge antlers just staring at us. I've never been so close to this sort of deer before. There were loads of pheasant scooting around as well.

The lake was gorgeous to jump in a cool off with trout leaping around in the background. There were a couple of kayak's to paddle around in as well, so needless to see we buffooned around on these for ages.

Aimee decided she wanted to have a go by herself. So we set her the task of canoing around the tiny island in the lake.

After much frustrated screaming and shouting and having covered every square inch of the lake, turning circles, she made it round and back.

Dinner was booked at the main lodge for 8pm with canape's and cocktails served from 7pm.

So after getting ready we called for a lift up there in the Range Rover as it was 1.5km away.

The main lodge is stunning, set high up the forest with a waterfall at the entrance with loads of fish for the kids to chase. The main hall is huge with high wooden beams and decorated in a Maori style with a massive open fire at one end. Stuff animals from previous hunting trips adorned the walls everywhere. It was like an old Scottish hunting lodge!

So the cocktails were served and we stepped out onto the lawns to enjoy the view with the kids jumping around on the stepping stones over the stream.

The building had a proper old library and snooker room with a few American having a go, saying they'd never seen a pool table so large!

Actually we noticed that there we several Americans staying here, no doubt drawn in by the hunting on offer.

Anyway a degustation meal was served and I was amazed the kids actually ate it.

After dinner the staff treated all of us to a walk into the forest to see the resident glow worms. It was pitch black as we headed down the path towards the waterfall, only guided by Christian's torch light.

At the waterfall with the torch off we were greeted to a wall of dotted lights in front of us. Wow!! was all the kids could say.

The more cynical side of me reckoned they'd just put fairy lights up and switched them on at night. None the less it was impressive to see.

Another late night in getting Aimee and Ollie into bed, tomorrow was going to be a busy day, with walks, horse riding and fly fishing all planned.

Posted by Mike.millington 22:57 Archived in New Zealand Comments (2)

Bridal falls at Treetop

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Posted by Mike.millington 13:51 Comments (0)

Bridal falls at Treetop

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Posted by Mike.millington 13:51 Comments (0)

Day 14 Wellington to Lake Taupo

Te Papa and Taupo

sunny 30 °C

We were up pretty early today as we new it was gonna be busy and had a long trip ahead of us.

We got packed up and went back to Cuba street for a slap up breakfast.

Wellington's known as the windy city and she was certainly living up to her name. It was blustery from the word go.

How many days off wind is that now!!

We got all our stuff out of the room and into Big Blue and headed of to the the national museum called Te Papa.

What a great museum this is, we could have spent all day here. There was plenty for the kids to do.

First up we took them to the interactive science experiments where they learnt how to make fizzy lemonade, sherbert and watched an experiment with coke and mints. Quite an email explosive reaction!

Next we moved onto the Maori exhibition where we all learnt how they came to live in New Zealand and how they navigated over on small boats from Polynesia. Very interesting stuff.

Next up was one of dads favourites, the Rugby exhibition although it all appeared to be about how great the Kiwi's are at rugby!! Then again I suppose it's their museum!!

As we wandered to the next section we spotted an exhibit on different toys throughout the decades. Bit of a trip down memory lane for Mel and I.

Te Papa had a special exhibit on historic computer and arcade games and how they've developed throughout the years, and Ollie had his eye on this.

In we went and got hit by the likes of pacman, space invaders, asteroids and donkey Kong. The kids didn't know what to think it was all so old! Mel got stuck into a bit of pacman and I into Outrunner, the driving game.

The games of yesteryear do seem pretty dated and not much fun!

Anyway we were dragged through to the next section where the Playstations were, with Lego star wars games ready play.

Needless to say Ollie thought he'd landed in heaven! So we left him there for a while as we continued around.

The best section had the Xbox kinetic games. This is the latest thing in gaming and doesn't involve any controls. You use your whole body to control it. It simply watches and reacts to your movements. A bit spooky!

They had a dance game loaded up and ready. The objective was to dance certain moves in time to the music and were then scored on it. So Mel and Aimee stepped up and had a go. To be honest they both made it look pretty easy, well certainly Mel did.

Next up dad, who went head to head with an 8 year old girl. I fancied my chances against her dancing to Niki Minaj's starships!

What an absolute fiasco, I was well and truly thrashed and confirms the fact that I have top left feet and no rhythm.

I got a 2 from Craig Revelhall!! Disaster Darling would be the words he'd use.

Even Aimee scored more than I did, which wouldn't have been hard.

So after dragging Ollie out we moved onto the Awesome Forces section. This was all about the geology of the planet and in particular New Zealand. So lots of hands on stuff about volcano's, earthquakes and glaciers. We even got to experience what the Christchurch quake felt like in a simulator room. Not sure this put Ollie's mind at ease.

It's very easy to tell that he's still thinking about it a lot.

Still it was a great section.

We then moved onto then animal section looking at all sorts of insects, mammals, birds and sea life from New Zealand and the surrounding areas. The best exhibit was the giant squid that'd been caught on a science exhibition to Antarctica.

They caught this thing purely by chance and it was enormous. It's the only one to have been caught in the world and preserved. It's pretty amazing to see it displayed out. Not something you want to get tangled up with.

We'd already over spent our time here and knew we had to leave.

Unfortunately we'd only seen a small section of the museum and nothing else of Wellington city, which was a real pity. Our holiday simply wouldn't be long enough to fit it all in.

So we set of for Lake Taupo, with the sat nav saying it'd take 4hrs and 45 mins, if you were in a normal car! Past experience from the South Island lead us to believe it'd take 6 to 7 hours!  We weren't sure we were gonna make it today.

Driving through the city the wind was really gusting now, with the radio saying it was reaching 150km/hr in places. As we drove past the port on the motorway out of town, a huge gust got hold of the van causing us to swerve across the road. It was pretty freaky stuff inside a small van like Big Blue.

It only meant that we had to slow down even further as we headed out of the city.

Needing to eat on the move we, decided to go for a drive through MacDonald's, much to the kids delight!

So we continued our journey and as the winds eased we gradually picked up speed.

Now today, we actually did something in Big Blue that we'd never done before.

Over took another car!!

We had to take a massive run up, and also have a long straight stretch of clear road on the other side. Looking ahead I knew we could do it, and floored Big Blue.

Come oooonnnnn!!!! we roared as we moved into the other lane, and as we past the car to our left, we waved to the guy who was pushing his car along!!

Still we managed it.

The roads are far flatter with less turns in them than the South island so, we were making far better headway than we thought we would. The kids were stuck into iPads etc watching films and playing games, so they weren't really a bother.

So we reached the south side of Lake Taupo 5hour and 30mins later. We'd done really well.

We'd been told to camp along the shores of the lake at one of the many sites, so after picking up a few supplies at the supermarket we found our campsite.

The office was closed and there was hardly anyone around, but one of the girls; who apparently works there, let us know where to go.

We had a whole field to ourselves, with great views of the lake. So I setup the tent in record time, despite the best help from the kids. While Mel warmed up some bake beans and cooked burgers on the small cooker we had in the van. It was great here, with loads of room for the kids to run round in.

After a few beers, with the sun going down, Aimee and I turned to star gazing and satellite spotting. With very little background light it was amazing to see so many stars.

With Mel's love of tents and all things camping(it was actually her idea to camp tonight!) She was going to sleep in the van with Ollie while Aimee and I would sleep in the tent.

So as Aimee and I turned in for the night, we watched as Mel was fumigating the inside of the van with every kind of fly and mosquito repellent she could lay her hands on.

We could hardly see in the van for the vapours it was giving off! I'm sure Big Blue was crying through the sting of the spray.

I wasn't sure I'd have a wife and son alive in the morning with the amount she'd used!!

So we went to sleep, tomorrow swimming in Taupo and off those Treetop a lodge.

Posted by Mike.millington 15:36 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Mummy and Aimee horse riding at Treetops

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Posted by Mike.millington 15:26 Comments (0)

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