Tuesday, April 10, 2018
Midmorning, we left Rotorua and took the 1 hour drive to Lake Taupo. We thought about stopping at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, but between the rain and the low levels of interest from the kids, plus the fact that time at Lake Taupo was limited, we kept driving and arrived just before lunch time.
We had been seeing sushi restaurants everywhere, so we decided to try some. Big mistake! We ordered 1 lunch special where the sushi turned out to be teriyaki chicken wrapped in rice, some mushy fried things that were the tempura, cabbage salad, and rice. The rice was a bit off. The sushi plate was a bit better. Half was salmon and avocado, which would have been really good if there had been more salmon and less rice, and the other half was the weird teriyaki chicken rolls. We also got a couple of tempura shrimps, but they were the wrong temperature. John ended up really liking the plate of hot teriyaki chicken and something that tasted a bit like a spicy orange chicken, so at least someone was happy. I think we have learned our lesson about New Zealand sushi. We keep looking around, but most of the sushi restaurants seem to be similar to what we had.
We stopped at the tourist information center and confirmed that our decision to do the Huka Falls Walkway was the right choice. We started to walk there from town, but between exhaustion and intermittent rain, we decided to drive to Huka Falls instead and decide from there whether or not to do the hike. Good choice! The Huka Falls were beautiful, but the angle of the view points and the position of the sun made it hard to capture on camera.
We decided to hike part of the Huka Falls Walkway. It was still raining off and on, but the trees on the path did a really good job of sheltering us. We even saw a Tui! John captured some really nice pictures on our walk.
The lushness of the land has really fascinated us. It is amazingly beautiful and unlike anywhere else we have been. There is a weird mix of tropical and forest vegetation, the closest analogy we can think of is a mixture of the Netherlands and Hawaii.
After walking a bit, the boys enjoyed some popsicles by the waterfall, then we headed back to town and checked into our apartment, 52 on Rifle Motel. It looked very mediocre from the outside, and was a bit further from the lake than it looked on the map, but once we entered, we were very happy! The view of the lake was amazing, the furnishings were nice, and it had 2 bedrooms, a living room, and a kitchen. The boys favorite part was the trampoline.
We decided to walk down to the lake, then wandered into town. James loved the local McDonald’s, which seems appropriate since there was a big sign advertising “Voted World’s Coolest McDonald’s.” Who knew that McDonald’s play lands could be inside an airplane? Unfortunately, the airplane was just closing as we arrived, but I was saved having to eat there again.
We wandered through town, picked up some dinner to eat at the apartment, and headed back to rest up for the long drive to Wellington the following morning. This was a great stop, one I definitely could have extended for few more days. Alas, seeing New Zealand from top to bottom in 2 weeks means lots of 1-2 night stops and lots of wishing for more time.