Taupo is an amazing city. It's right on the largest lake in NZ - Lake Taupo. The lake is so big, Singapore could fit in it. If you had a string and pulled it tight from one side of the lake to the other, it would be 15 feet below water in the middle because of the curve of the Earth. The lake is actually a volcano. It erupted back in the day (Romans documented seeing the red ash when it happened) and filled with water (like Mount St. Helens).
We had planned to go back to Rotorua to complete our trip, but we stayed here until the day of our flight back to America for a number of reasons.
1- so beautiful
2- great shopping
3- had to wait for perfect weather to hike Tongariro Crossing
4- the hostel was 1000x nicer than the one in Rotorua
On our first day, we shopped and relaxed.
The second day happened to be Ironman New Zealand - and it was held in Taupo. It was really cool to watch! The competitors swam in the lake, which was a block away from the hostel. They biked and ran at the end of our street. We couldn't be at a better spot to watch them swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles. It was the 25th anniversary of the Ironman in NZ. We were cheering on Jo Lawn, a NZ woman who had been champion for 6 years in a row. She lost. We did see American's competing, which is crazy. They had to bring their bikes with them on the plane!
While these people were running, we got massages.
Day 3 - We hiked the Tongariro Crossing (more on that to come).
Day 4 - We went to a thermal pool. Because the Earth's crust is so thin, water is heated by the core of the Earth and it comes out warm. We went to a YMCA-like place that had hot baths - it turned out it was lukewarm water in hot tubs. Luckily, there was a natural hot spring three blocks away.
The hot water poured down a waterfall and into the river. It was wild to be at the spot where the hot and cold water met - there were hot and cold pockets. But where the water poured over the waterfall - it was scalding hot! Of course, while at this park, Mary wished we had the camera - it was two miles away back at the hostel. Luckily her husband enjoys running (and was looking for an excuse to get in a run). Mary read some chick-lit while I went back to get the camera to catch some great shots of the area.
It was such an enjoyable place, it's where we would move if we could. Only two complaints about Taupo - our room at the hostel was above a bar that partied until 3am and I did laundry and turned everything pink.