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Taupo, A Thermal Island and Jet Boating – Day 23
Tuesday 19th April 2005
After the adrenaline-fuelled day of yesterday, you could be forgiven for thinking that I would choose to relax today, and reflect on the past day with appreciation, but Taupo isn’t the type of place to just sit back and do nothing. Today would be another busy day…
I didn’t feel much like relaxing as it happens. I figured there is far too much for me to see and do, and just sitting about wouldn’t get anything done. I wanted to do something else exciting today. So I chose to go to Orakei Korako, a thermal island.
I drove to the site where I would be boarding a boat, and that is exactly what I did. Once on the boat I had the chance to take in all the sights and sounds. The day was warm, and the sunlight glistened across the water’s surface, disturbed only by the boat as we carved our way over the beautiful – and quite warm – lake. I was able to lean over the side of the boat and touch the water as we went, thus knowing that the water was warm.
Upon approaching the island, it was clear to understand the abnormal water temperature, as thermal water spilled over the rocks of the island and made their escape into the peaceful lake. The island itself looked ragged in places, yet stunningly beautiful and picturesque in others. I was looking forward to setting foot on the alien territory.
The walkways were marked very clearly, and were to be adhered to at all times. Following the route around the pathways took around an hour, and in this time I was able to witness many weird and wonderful sights. There were geysers spewing out boiling water, some lying dormant, although, only momentarily. There were hot springs, mud pools, sulphur plumes, and a cave. Inside of which was hot water, and the story goes something like this..
In times gone by, people who dwelt near this island would use this cave as a bathing area. You walk down into the cave and bathe without people watching you. I think this is what it is used for, although it might have been a ceremonial place where people were baptised in some way. I don’t remember to be honest. Either way it is a cave with hot water in it, very exciting!!
The plumes of sulphur smoke escaped out of every crack in the ground all about me, and the smell was wretched, yet I was in awe of the whole place. I loved it all. There were lakes of green water, streams and pools, and even the trees took on a peculiar guise. It seemed like something out of another world, and was fascinating to see. But alas, I had to get back to the boat, so off I went, giggling to myself at the sounds of the bubbling mud pools as I walked by. I guess the earth around here has flatulence problems.
I came back to Taupo for some lunch, then headed up to the river to have a go at Jet Boating. It looked great fun and I really wanted to try it. I booked my place, then waited around the wooden shack for others to arrive. One by one the places filled, and pretty soon we had a full boat. Introductions were conducted, albeit rather briefly, then we put on our life jackets and headed for the boat. Everybody rushed to get there first in order to get the best seat, whereas I missed the opportunity and ended up being last. This was, however, completely in my favour as the boat filled from the back to the front. So I ended up in the front with the best view, haha!
The adventure lasted a little over 30 minutes, and we raced along the river, twisting and turning, jumping clear out of the water over the rapids, and spinning 180 degrees. It was incredible, and so much fun. We stopped for a second or two at the point where the water is released into the river, then headed back to where the rapids were most angry, and flew through the air time after time. I absolutely loved it.
After getting the photos from the experience as taken by one of the crew, I headed off feeling very content indeed. It had been a great day and I finished it off nicely with a walk to the beach, not far from the hostel. The beach is part of the huge lake that was created during volcanic activity many, many years ago. The area is still active to a degree, and steam can be seen rising from the surface of the lake all around. The top layer of the lake is very warm, and if you float on the surface, it would be like having a really big bath.
On the beach itself, if you dig a hole in the sand, the hot water seeps into the hole and you can literally sit in a pool of hot water right there on the beach. You could see many holes scattered about by people who had this exact idea. While walking, I got chatting to a couple of New Zealanders, there on holiday. They were very friendly and explained about the boiling water running into the lake constantly, and how this whole area is a thermal wonderland. They even offered me a use of their canoe if I was back there again tomorrow, which was very nice I thought.
I came back to the hostel for a pizza and got chatting to a group of English girls, swapping stories about our adventures. Had a good laugh, then went to the TV room to see out the rest of the evening. An old guy who was staying there was watching a program called ‘Lost’. It looked very hard to understand, and we ended up talking through it in the end. It looked interesting though, so I will have to find out a little more about this program at some point. Bed was calling me by now, so I gave in. today was a thoroughly enjoyable day.
Written by Daniel Stevens,
Founder of Roundtheworldtrip.org.
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