Whenever I arrive somewhere new one of the first things I do is scope out the nearest waterfront; the ocean, the harbour, I don’t care. It’s just something I do.
When I first arrived in Sydney in 2010 (holy crap that seems like a really long time ago) the first thing I found myself doing was walking along the harbour front near the Opera house. I remember it not seeming real, with the sun dancing across the water and boats sailing out towards the sea.
In Brisbane I spent the first day walking right along the river from the city through Southbank.
In Wellington it was the harbour I was most excited about seeing.
I’d been in Byron Bay all of ten minutes when I announced that I was going to the beach.
So it was a given that when I arrived in Taupo with my friend Gemma, having driven down from Auckland the day before new years eve, one of the first things we did was find Lake Taupo.
I say one of the first things because first we ate some Thai food….
And then we went to Lake Taupo which, if you’re a fan of trivia (and who isn’t, really?) is basically the same land size as Singapore; 616 square kilometers so it’s no surprise that it’s the largest lake in New Zealand.
What was a surprise though was just how pretty it was. I hadn’t looked at any pictures of the lake before my trip. I hadn’t googled it or done any research and I was glad I hadn’t. Seeing that vast amount of water with the late afternoon sun sparkling off it was the best greeting Taupo could have given me.
And then, such is the tradition when you’re away for a few days during the summer, we decided to go to a local watering hole.
And by watering hole, I mean the pub.
The next morning, somewhat hangover-free (I know, I was surprised too) we had eggs and bacon at a busy little cafe, got back in the car and drove 10 minutes out of Taupo to visit Huka Falls.
Huka Falls, as the name suggests, is a waterfall on the Waikato River. You can actually take a cruise or an adrenalin-filled jet boat ride to see the falls but we opted for the cheap option of viewing it from above.
And….well, let’s just say I was not dissapointed.
The water thundered beneath us, brilliant blue under the bridge I stood on staring down stream. So much water moving so fast, sloshing against the rocks before falling into the calmer waters below. I stood there for what felt like a very long time listening and watching as the water raced towards the waterfall.
And then having walked to a different, less busy, viewing point, I saw the waterfall from across the river.
But all this staring at beautiful waterfalls/paddling in the lake/stumbling home from the pub in the early hours malarky had us, you know, kind of exhausted.
Well, that and the fact that we’d both been woken up at 5am that morning by the infuriating sounds of a backpacker with multiple plastic carrier bags inside his backpack.
It was definitely time for some R & R and what better way to relax than in a geothermal hot pool where natural minerals would soothe our tired muscles, soften our skin and make our hair nice and shiny.
Ok I made the last one up but I swear to god that’s basically what the lady at the counter said.
De Bretts Spa Resort isn’t that far out of Taupo and even though we could have gone to a free hot mineral pool, paying $20 to enjoy two mineral pools of different temperatures, a cold pool with a jacuzzi, a hydro pool and possibly the fastest water slide I’ve ever been on, was fine with me.
I mean seriously, what’s not to like?
But it didn’t properly feel like new years eve until we were celebrating in one of Taupo’s Irish pubs, battling our way through a throng of people at the bar and dancing until our feet were sore.
I think it’s fair to say the water was flowing by this point.
And by water I mean rum.