Day 1,837 of Traveling the World | Lake Taupo, New Zealand | February 12, 2023

Lake Taupo has been a stunning place to spend time – when we drive in the area, the lake is always accompanying us! The town of Taupo is a delight and very inviting for visitors, as there are lots of retail stores and loads of restaurants of every type, at every cost range. Walking the streets is fun, as……

We discovered the world’s coolest McDonald’s – actually, we first saw a DC-3 sitting on a street, and saw “McDonald’s” painted on the outside. This DC-3 was built in 1943 and was used as a 20-passenger plane and then a crop duster before being decommissioned in 1984. It was bought by Taupo’s Aeroplane Car Company, a car dealership, and used to advertise their business. When they sold the property to McDonald’s, the DC-3 came with it. And so, you can climb the 15 steps and eat in the coolest McDonald’s ever. We are old, but truly, it was fun because it was so unique. There were kids coming in and out while we ate to look around, run around, and examine the cockpit.

We had planned to leave here on February 14, after five nights, but just extended our stay by two nights. Have you seen the news about the strongest cyclone (in the US, a hurricane) about to hit NZ since 1990? They have named it Gabrielle and are saying it will be “potentially devastating.” The rain started today, and by Tuesday morning, it will have been raining steadily and constantly under very windy conditions. Civil Defence Centres have been set up and shelters are opening. Air New Zealand has canceled many of its flights. We had planned to drive to Napier, on the east coast, but that is precisely where the worst of the storm will hit, with flooded roads and possible power outages expected. So we will stay put an extra few days until travel is safer. (We were going to explore Rotorua while we were here, which is the center of all the geothermal activity, but that will have to wait for another visit.)

Two interesting places were on our agenda for yesterday: Huka Falls and the Craters of the Moon Geothermal Walk. Huka Falls’ water was a dazzling sky blue, looking very much like a swimming pool’s water when the bottom is painted blue. While the waterfall isn’t a steep drop, like Niagara Falls, it is a very powerful, explosive one. We give its wild statistics under the photos below. There were quite a number of people viewing the falls.

At Craters of the Moon, the entire trail walk was 45 minutes, which seemed too long in the warm sun with no shade. But once we started, we decided we would just keep going. It is a lot like Yellowstone, although there are no geysers. There were lots of fumaroles, pockets of steam escaping the earth, which of course stunts the growth of vegetation. Some “shrubs” would otherwise grow into trees, but the warm soil prevents that kind of growth. Some of the craters were bubbling, and the landscape is rather other-worldly. Seeing steaming and bubbling ground was the surest deterrent to going off of the boardwalk!

So the next few days we will be watching the wind and rain and facing a cyclone while being grateful that we always make cancellable hotel reservations for circumstances such as this. We truly were dreading the thought of driving during the worst of this storm, possibly encountering flooded/closed roads, and not knowing if we would be able to get to any hotel, let alone the one we had booked in Napier. This hotel is up on a hill, so we don’t fear being flooded. And there is a restaurant here, too, so we have everything we need to face Gabrielle.

Beautiful Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand, with a surface area of 238 square miles.
Every water sport imaginable is available at the lake, along with picnicking. There is a walking trail adjacent.
This is the main shopping/eating area across from the lake. There are lots of local places, along with KFC, McDonald’s (locally, Macca’s), and Burger King.
This poor tree along the lake looks like it is trying to go under the limbo stick!
The local Macca’s! It has a DC-3 sitting area.
There are 15 steps up to the hatch!
Inside, there are eight tables for two.
The cockpit is sealed off, but this is a peek inside.
It really is the coolest! It was fun to have lunch in a plane!
The Waterside Restaurant offers these amazing-looking Freakshakes. It was “closed” when we were there, though. The doors were open and it was during their business hours, but the waitress told us that everybody was on break, so they couldn’t seat us for half an hour. So we went to the restaurant next door.
Very colorful street art.
Mike told Jan that whatever “Rereke” meant, THAT woman was Jan. So we looked up the translation from the Māori: REREKE – Different, Abnormal, Bizarre, Diverse, Funny. Seems that Mike got that one right!
Crocs just wanna have fu-u-u-n!
We loved that this was a “permanent promotion.” It was in a discount store, of course. The Saks Fifth Avenue type stores never have fun notices like this.
As we walked down the street, it was fun to see HELL floating above this building.
Each gourmet pizza is named after one of the Deadly Sins.
Two doors down, we came upon Sin City. There is a theme here.
The marvelous, sky-blue water of Huka Falls.
The fall isn’t a long drop (35 ft) but it is powerful – about 60,000 gallons per second, enough to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool every 11 seconds.
Like Niagara’s Maid of the Mist, this boat gets close enough to the falls to feel the spray, but not so close so as to get toppled by the power of the waterfall.
The waterfall forms when the wide Waikato River is forced into a narrow ravine. The result is one of the most powerful falls on earth.
The water keeps roiling long after it comes down the waterfall.
Opposite the falls are many trails, like this one, which are very inviting. It is why NZ is known as a hiker’s paradise.
About a mile from Huka Falls is Craters of the Moon park, a natural geothermal area. You can see the earth venting.
A very, very good reason to stay on the boardwalk and not wander off of it!
Tourist operators in the 19th century called this site the “Devil’s Trumpet” after the deafening roar generated by the superheated steam. It doesn’t roar anymore, though.
It was a glorious day, and interesting to see steam escaping the earth everywhere we looked.
This was the largest fumarole that we saw.
Looking out toward the distant green hills, there are small ventings of volcanic gases everywhere.

🔹🔹 If you enjoyed reading our post, you can subscribe to our website to automatically receive every blog we publish. Just go to our “Contact” tab. In the gray box at the very bottom, it says – SUBSCRIBE TO BLOG VIA EMAIL. Just put in your email address, and we will appear in your Inbox! Also, right above it, there is a small form to send us a message, if you wish. (But please note, you cannot hit “Reply” on the post emailed to you to send us a message. You must use the Contact tab.)