16 Mar 2016

Over The Mtn's & Thru The Woods - NZL by valeriepeltier


Star 1


With Huka Falls only being 6km from the town we figured that it would make for a perfect day hike and along the way back we could stop off at the spa park. It was supposed to rain a little in the afternoon so we headed out just after breakfast.
On the way we passed the grocery store and to grab a thing or two for lunch.
The first bit of the walk was along the city blocks passing both residential and commercial districts, then it opened up to the highway heading out of town. The sidewalk continued to stretch on the way we wanted to go and brought us out to a scenic lookout of the town of Lake Taupo before turning off to the side road that brought us to the falls. At the turn off we still had another 4 or so km to go and we had gotten talking to a young couple at the lookout and they ended up offering us a ride the remainder of the way dropping us off in the parking lot. We skipped over the visitors centre and headed straight over the bridge which led you directly over the extremely fast flowing Huka Falls channel.
Lauren and I sat there for a few moments contemplating whether or not the turbidity of the water was too strong for a white water raft to make it down safely. In the end we came to a decision that it was possible but for extremists or highly trained professionals and that we would be okay not going down it ourselves.
Off to the left the path led us alongside the Waitomo River with several lookout points where people lined the metal fence a short distance from the cliffs edge. At the last lookout, otherwise known as the Huka Falls Lookout, a display sign with the Mauri name "Huka" printed on it with the translated word foam, describing the icy blue and white water colours once it had passed through the falls and filled with air bubbles.
Huka falls in some regards is similar to Niagara with the pure velocity of water rushing through every minute, just on a smaller scale. The water pushing through Huka Falls per minute is enough to fill three Olympic swimming pools, so for the amount of time that Lauren and I stood watching the falls 45 Olympic pools could have been filled.
Following the trail in the other direction this time we followed the river as we watched the water turn from an icy white and blue colour to a pure emerald green. The path opened up in areas here and there but for the majority of the time there was vegetation on either side, following us as we hiked towards the geothermal hot pools also known as the Spa Park.

Star 0


When we emerged from the path the tree line followed the left side while on our right it opened up completely to the river flowing past us at a steady pace. The path split in two, so instead of taking the path straight across the bridge we instead turned left where it took us up along the flow of geothermal pools exploring the area first.
We passed over another bridge further up and took it around the other side back down meeting up with the original path again, and after reading the signs for the hot pools we retreated up to a small hill where a large tree shaded the lookout perfectly. We relaxed from our walk and took the chance to grab a bite to eat, and afterwards change into our bathing suits.
Once we were ready we grabbed our backpacks and brought it all down to the stream with us since there were signs everywhere saying to keep a careful watch on your belongings due to high theft rates. Even before leaving the hostel that morning the guy at the front desk had warned us not to bring any valuables with us to the stream incase of theft. We sat our bags on the edge of the pool under the bridge and dipped into the pool under the bridge first. I couldn't believe the temperature it was as if I had just stepped inside a hot tub, the water was quite warm, but it was fantastic to be sitting inside a natural geothermal hot pool with a waterfall flowing in on the side of the river.
We are unable to stay in there for too long and instead retreated to a lower pool where the cool water from the river and the hot water from the geothermal stream were able to mix together to form a perfect bath like temperature to lounge in. Every so often you were able to feel the water mixing through when one source would over power the other and either turn warmer or colder as if someone had turned on a tap to top up the water.
The sun was beating down on us in the water and Lauren didn't have any sunscreen on and had gotten her fill of swimming so she retreated back under the tree where she could relax in the shade while I continued swimming and hopping from one pool to the next and so on.
While sitting in the lower portion of the pools I began chatting with two girls from England who were heading in the opposite direction as we had across NZ and in half the time. Before I knew it an hour had passed so I went to head back to where Lauren was under the tree but instead met her on the path heading towards me.
I quickly changed out of my baiting suit bottoms and we began walking back to our hostel. As we started out Lauren turned to me and said "you will never guess what just happened to me". It turned out while Lauren was resting under the tree she had an unwanted visitor, naturally my mind immediately jumped to some sort of animal, but that was not the case. Instead she had turned as she heard someone approaching the tree where she had hung her towel and bathing suit, just in time to see a Middle aged man stroll up to the tree, boldly grab her towel and sit down as if she was not even there. As soon as I heard the words come out of her mouth I couldn't help but immediately begin to laugh.
For the remainder of the 15 minute walk back to the hostel, I would every so often chuckle a little as i thought about her having to confront this man in order to get her towel back.