» Travelogue New Zealand: Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland and Taupo

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Nov 01

Verena in Wai-O-Tapu Wonderland & The joy of camping in Taupo

We don't set off as early as planned, because we decide to enjoy the hot pool once more. A girl from Waikite Valley joins me, she has a concession ticket and is glad about the pools. «There's nothing else you can do here», she smiles.

Champagne PoolThe Champagne Pool in Wai-O-Tapu Wonderland · more Rotorua pictures more pictures

According to Lonely Planet the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is the most fascinating of the thermal areas. Ralph is sick of the sulphur smell and prefers to wait for me which is quite okay by me. I don't put any value om seeing Lady Knox Geyser which spouts daily and punctually at 10.15 am with the little help of a kind of washing powder – after all I've already admired the Pohutu Geyser which manages on it's very own ;-) Nor do I need to see more stinky bubbling mud pools. Both features are outside the rest of the park and I ignore them. I'm drawn by the pools and mineral terraces shining in the sunlight in all possible and impossible colours.

The colourful palette is generated by sulphides and oxides in the volcanic stone. These make the water shine in all colours when reflected by the sunlight: Green – colloidal sulphur, Yellow – sulphur, Orange – antimony, Purple – manganese oxide, White – silica, Black – sulphur and carbon, Red-brown – iron oxide.

Frying Pan FlatFrying Pan Flat in Wai-O-Tapu Wonderland · more Rotorua pictures more pictures

I choose the “longest” of the 3 walks. The loop track is estimated to be 3 km and 75 minutes but if you really want to enjoy the park you should take more time. I do so. Fortunately, it's less crowded than expected. There are some tour groups, but when you take your time there's the opportunity to be alone or almost alone at a place and to enjoy the extraordinary view and the silence. The track leads across barren rocks and along crevices steaming and burbling like hell. Fittingly, one of the craters is called Devil's Home. Pink and orange tints the air at the hot steaming Champagne Pool. A path leads through lush pine forest to lakes coloured neon green by the reflection of the sulphides. In the green water of Frying Pan Flat a bird searches for feed. I wonder what he's looking for. It can't be fish anyway.

Champagne PoolSparkling Champagne Pool in Wai-O-Tapu Wonderland · more Rotorua pictures more pictures

On my way back I find the Champagne Pool completely deserted, no one's here except me. Now I can clearly hear the sparkling of the tirelessly surfacing little bubbles. Indeed, it's a pool full of champagne. I'll never forget.

Ralph's been waiting at the carpark the whole time. He's quite sick of it by now – it's hot today ;-) Next we head for Taupo. Fortunately, we miss the camping site, because shortly afterwards we find a nice spot for our campervan on a carpark directly at Lake Taupo, with a stunning view to the Tongariro volcanic massif on the opposite side. And this is for free! Everything looks blue. The water, the mountains, the sky. Tongariro. The next big aim. The eucalyptus tree besides us spreads its scent. No wishes left.

We do our food shopping at PAK'n SAVE and are pleasantly surprised. In contrast to the Whangarei store the fish looks fresh, they have tasty buns and a good range of crisp fruit and vegetables. Afterwards we stroll around. At Hell's Pizza we eat the most delicious pizza (we've had so far) in New Zealand. Pizza Mordor with chicken and BBQ-sauce is a hit.

At the Pub 'n' Grub we watch the sun setting at Tongariro. Having 2 pints of Mac's Gold we rejoice over finding a place like this. A lonely, talkative cowboy joins us and explains that the dressager on TV (who gives his best in my view) has no idea. He is pretty drunk and wants to offer us his takeaway-food, while telling us his wife is waiting for it at home and he spills the sauce on the table and our glasses. We don't mind, the guy is nice enough and he means well. The barman simply brings new beer and nobody minds. Oh how beautiful Taupo is.

Lake TaupoEvening at Lake Taupo · more Taupo pictures more pictures

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