After an action packed few days black water rafting in Waitomo Glowworm Caves, canopy zip-lining and zorbing in Rotorua, we headed further South to Taupō – a town most famous for the incredible Huka Falls.
Here, you can witness 220,000+ litres of water p/second barrelling over the 11 metre high waterfall along The Waikato River, New Zealand’s longest river.
Taupō is also home to one of the world’s most iconic McDonald’s. The store has a decommissioned DC3 plane as part of its restaurant, which you can eat at and you can still see inside the original cockpit.
Emily and I have eaten a McDonald’s in almost all of the 20 countries we’ve travelled to together, so we made sure to grab a bite to eat at this one.
We then tried our luck at the $10,000 Hole in One Challenge from 111 yards off the tee on Lake Taupō, New Zealand’s biggest lake.
We bought 15 balls for $20 and gave it our best shot, but we failed miserably. To be fair, I think Rory McIlroy would have struggled in those blustery conditions!
After, we headed along the coastline to the popular skiing resort of Whakapapa Village, which is within the dual UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tongariro National Park.
Day 15 – Hiking in Tongariro National Park
Tongariro National Park depicts the land of Mordor in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Mount Ruapehu represents Mount Doom. Yesterday, on our drive in we got to appreciate the majestic landscapes of Mount Ngauruhoe to the right and Mount Tongariro to the left of this picture below.
The 12.7 mile Tongariro Alpine Crossing hike across the three active volcanic peaks of Mt Ngaruruhoe, Ruapehu and Tongariro is considered to be one of the best single-day treks in the world. *NOTE: a guide is needed in winter because of the ever-changing weather conditions.
Instead, we braved the elements and went on a respectable 4.5 mile hike to Taranaki Falls. I’m sure this would have been a beautiful trek in summer but the weather conditions were so dire that the overall visibility must have been reduced to less than 50 metres.
Day 16 – Pouakai Tarn Hike – Egmont National Park
The next morning, we left the dismal weather behind us and headed for New Plymouth on the West Coast, stopping off along the way at the viewpoint of Three Sisters and Elephant Rock in Tongaporutu.
We drove here as we wanted to do the nearby 8.7 mile Pouakai Tarn hike in Egmont National Park overlooking the stunning Mount Taranaki at an impressive 2580 ft elevation.
This was one the most tiring hikes I’ve ever done, but it has been my favourite highlight of New Zealand so far. It wasn’t as challenging as the Vernal Falls and Clark Point via Mist and John Muir Loop hike we did in Yosemite National Park. (To read my guide on how best to maximise your time in Yosemite, click here).
Luckily enough, we had perfect blue skies on the day which meant the views were exactly how we imagined them to be. It’s fair to say, our calf and thigh muscles ached for the new few days!
Day 17 – Drive to Wellington
Before leaving New Plymouth for Wellington, we briefly checked out Lake Mangamahoe. However, we couldn’t muster up the energy to get out of the camper van and go on a walk.
Eventually, we arrived in Wellington at 18:00 PM after a long five hour drive.
Day 18 – Exploring the Capital of New Zealand
We had planned to ride the Wellington Cable Car to get the best views of the city, but unfortunately it was closed for annual maintenance. Instead, we drove up to the Mount Victoria Lookout at 196 metres high to take in the views. By now, we’ve learnt that the weather in New Zealand can change drastically day-by-day and at anytime.
Wellington has been labelled as the world’s ‘coolest little capital’ by Lonely Planet and according to The New York Times the city has more bars, cafes and restaurants per capita than New York.
A big advantage of camper van life is not having to constantly worry about finding accommodation or food, but this afternoon we found an artsy cafe.
(To read about the second week of our New Zealand Road Trip, click here).
And with that, our North Island adventure of New Zealand comes to an end after an incredible 18 days.
Next, we catch the Interisland Ferry over to Picton in the South Island. Firstly, we’ll explore Abel Tasman National Park, Punakaiki, Franz Joseph and Fox Glacier (if the weather permits)!
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Thanks for stopping by, until the next time…
One thought on “New Zealand Road Trip – Taupō, Tongariro National Park, Mount Taranaki & Wellington (Part III)”
enjoy sounds great we will hopefully ibe in New Zealand in 15 weeks counting down each day, it is a fantastic part of this world we know you are making the most of it G’Day COBBERS