Lake Taupo, Jan 14, 2003

23:26 - Lake Taupo - Lake Taupo is huge! I hadn't imagined the lake to be this large. The drive up from Wellington on highway 1 took us north, past the east side of Tangiriro National Park, which is featured as Mordor in the Lord of the Rings. We really wanted to see it in its full glory, but a large, dark cloud hung (appropriately) over the entire mountain range, so we continued onwards to Taupo. After checking in at our hotel (Lakeland of Taupo), we drove along the river to see the Craters of the Moon area, which is rich in geothermal activity. NZ has a large geothermal power plant nearby, which provides 8% of the country's electricity. We walked around fuming fumeroles and bubbling mudpits, inhaling horrid smells before continuing up the road to Huka Falls. Even though it's fairly squat (only 11m high), Huka Falls is NZ's largest volume waterfall. It was an impressive amount of water that fell over the edge. As usual for our time here, the sun lit up the clouds in the sky in a way that made taking well-exposed photographs extremely difficult.

At sunset (at 8:39pm), the sun dropped behind a strip of low-hanging clounds, lining the top of the entire strip in brilliant gold. I snapped a quick photo before we headed off to dinner. Norm and I both ordered the "white chocolate toffee cheesecake with raspberry & white chocolate ice cream" for dessert. Pure decadence. :)