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Published: October 22nd 2010
Thursday 21st October:
After failing miserably to experience any thermal immersion first-hand in Rotorua, we got up early to explore the Lake Taupo region. Chauffeur Dave was given strict instructions to head for the first bit of steam you see. Luckily, the Severn Valley Steam Railway doesn't stretch this far, so the target burst of steam led us nicely to Waikiti Thermal Pools. It was a really cold, windy day so Dave was a little unsure about getting stripped off to bathe outdoors. However, a quick 360 degree spin in the closest phone booth morphed him into Dario (minus the ponytail, David!!) and he braved the elements like a trooper. Waikiti consists of 6 outdoor thermal pools, heated to between 39 and 42 degrees celsius, and set against the beautiful vista of the NZ mountains. After my skin bore a startling resemblance to a prune, Dave insisted it was probably time to get out. Boo! We then took a short Eco Walk to look at the source of the hot spring (Te Manarua Boiling Springs) where it bubbles away nicely at 98 degrees. I thought it might be a plan to nip to the waters edge and re-do the white wash
that still smelt of eggs from Rotorua.
Next stop was Wai-Te-Pau to look at the thermal mud pools. Having only been dry for a few minutes, we just looked and didn't go for a full on roll around in it. Furthermore, someone told us that it can strip your suntan - there's no chance of topping it up in New Zealand and Dario has an image to maintain, don't you know!.
We then meandered over to the Aratiatia rapids, which aren't really rapids anymore because the government plonked a hydroelectric dam across the Waikato River. However, the spectacle hasn't truly disappeared as the floodgates open daily at 2pm (cue a look at the watch - 1.30pm. Cool!). We took a walk to the lookout points and waited for he action. The little trickle of a stream morphs into gushing rapids in the space of a few minutes.
Final stop of the day is Lake Taupo. Nestled nicely on the stunning lakeside is a MacDonalds. No ordinary MacDonalds, though, as it had a DC3 plane built into the infrastructure and painted in red and yellow. Therefore, we felt quite justified popping in for a Big Mac and fries
(sorry David!). We had a bit of an explore and soon found that pretty much the only interesting feature of Taupo is the lake and therefore, we got a room with a view, got take away food and looked out from the warmth of a hotel room.
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