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Driving inland north we are presented with a totally new high altitude terrain filled with brush, sand, metamorphic deposits and short fluffy trees, all of which creates a musty smell. The roadsides are coated in a purple hue with heather-like plants. This brings us to a volcanic region. Prio to Taupo, the highway bipasses a large army training base as well as a few asparagus farms. Some of the motorcyclists have Hell's Angels NZ emblazzoned on their jackets.
Taupo has more hotels than anywhere else. I can only imagine what it is like swarming with people in the summer months.
A good way to start a Saturday morning is to visit the farmer's market to grab a Lava Java. The plants being sold are certainly of a different variety than in Vernon. Maybe some day we will sell palm trees. Afterwards, we decide to go to the MOON. Inside, the crater is filled with sulpher smelling steam vents and hot bubbling mud. The heat causes my eyeglasses to constantly fog up.
A huge geothermal power plant is just outside the city, and adjacent is a dam that releases the water through spillways three times a day. Apparently, the Lord of the
Rings filmed at this location. It is interesting to see a dry canyon one minute, and raging rapids the next. Huka Falls is a narrow chasm that the river flows through before filling the dam.
A decision is made to go watch the bungy jumping on a cliff overlooking the river. We stand in the 'chicken area' and marvel at people making the leap. Another popular activity is the giant swing. Thinking it will operate much like a zip line, I was shocked when the swing plummeted straight downwards and then into an arc across the water. Enquiring about insurance for such a business, a New Zealander informs me that you cannot sue for personal injury, and it is all covered through insurance.
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