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.
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