Day 3 road tripping with random backpacker Christoph found us still happy co-travelers, but we were getting tired of moving around so much. We’d gotten to Taupo, a picturesque town on a pretty lake. The YHA hostel was great–friendly people, clean kitchen–and while there wasn’t much to do since the famous Tongariro crossing was snowed over and we didn’t have the right gear to brave it, we decided to stay two nights anyway. The Tongariro crossing is a day-long trek between Mt. Tongariro and active volcano Mt. Ngauruhoe (also known as Mt. Doom from the Lord of the Rings movies) dotted with surreally emerald lakes in between. Here’s what we missed. Oh well.
Instead I took an impromptu jump out of a plane the next day and met up with Christoph and fellow skydivers in the afternoon to soak in the natural hot springs at Spa Thermal Park.
Hot steamy water flows through a stream down mini waterfalls into small natural pools and feeds into Waikato river. It’s a free public park that happens to have hot pools. How great is that? First come first served and remember to pack out your trash.
As usual during my time in New Zealand I found myself comparing the scenery to Oregon. The two places are like long lost cousins. Made me miss my old haunt Cougar Hot Springs outside of Eugene where a short trek into the forest takes you to this (clothing optional) natural gem.