Bungy Jump, Skydive, Jet Boat, Party Cruise, Mountain Biking & a few too many nights out...
I said goodbye to another group of amazing Stray travellers to spend a few days in Taupo. After a month of intense day by day travelling through New Zealand, I was in much need of a little ‘holiday’ from a holiday... little did I know that Taupo had so much on offer.
Taupo is more than just a stopover. The town sits on the shores of Lake Taupo – New Zealand’s largest lake. It is one of the most popular and scenic destinations to jump out of a plane, a great place to warm up for the Nevis Bungy in Queenstown and surrounded by loads of walking trails, biking trails, Huka Falls & the beautiful scenery of Waikato River.
As soon as I arrived at Base Backpackers I was booked onto a 15000ft Skydive. I'd heard that Skydiving was originally developed to cure hangovers in the 18th century, but due to its extremity and complex analysis - had sooner become a 'sport' as such. Either way - I had a hangover that no egg and bacon roll could conquer so I was willing to try any sort of experimental activity.
I’d jumped in Byron Bay a few years back and forgotten just how “free” the experience had left me. We geared up, boarded a bright pink plane and soared above the stunning Taupo scenery. For most of the journey upwards my nerves were bypassed by the views – the blue waters of Lake Taupo right out to the mountainous terrain of the Tongariro Crossing.
But before I knew it – the door was pulled open. Strong gusts of wind rattled me as I questioned my sanity. The skydiver before me vanished into the abyss as the man attached to my back guided me to the edge. For those of you looking for the ultimate thrill – this is the best view of them all – your tiny legs dangling 15000ft above the safe haven of the ground. Then BOOM – I was freefalling! This is the moment all of my worries had subsided, I was 100% in the moment and my mind was screaming “YES KATIE, THIS IS WHAT IT FEEL LIKE TO BE ALIVE!” I travel to live and Skydiving definitely awakens every part of you - including your body's ability to overcome a hangover.
My room at Base Taupo overlooked Lake Taupo and the following morning I had front row seats to the Ironman Challenge. The sun was shining and hence, providing a great opportunity to walk down to 5 Mile Bay and have a dip in the lake. Plus with all of the fit, dedicated individuals speeding past my balcony, I was soon guilted into partaking in some sort of exercise. Later that evening I joined 30 other backpackers on a Party Cruise with Barbary Cruises. As the sun set we cruised by 10 metre Maori Rock Carvings, downed a few beers and relaxed. Naturally, we continued the party back at Element Bar.
I woke up the next morning with an immediate need for a big, greasy fry up. However after finding the empty McDonalds wrappers surrounding my bed, I opted for a fruit & yoghurt. Then it was off to master Bungy Jump # 5. I guess you could say that I have become quite addicted to pure adrenalin – so I thought it was time to give the old back flip a whirl! Bungy Jumps never get any less scary. The views were amazing and I got my ‘fix’ for the day. Still shaking, my body was then harnessed into a swing ready for the Cliff Hanger experience – a freefall swing propelling you back and forth over Waikato River. I think that was enough excitement for one day.
I had the afternoon free and wanted to explore Waikato River. The river runs into Lake Taupo and is a beautiful greenish blue. The river is home to Huka Falls – Taupo’s major attraction, and there is no better way to explore the falls than by taking a high speed jet boat right to the waterfall’s base. Hukafalls Jet had me screaming, laughing and 360 degree spinning my way down Waikato River. Buzzing, naturally, a few frothies were had before yet another epic night at Element Bar with my new found hostel friends. I even created my own shot - a "Banana Rumper" - pretty confident that it will soon fall under the category of house drink.
The following morning I was eager to hire a Mountain Bike and check out Craters of the Moon. A few of the others at the hostel rented a scooter for the day ($39 a day at Base Backpackers) – but being a bike enthusiast I was set in my ways. A little nervous about a lonesome venture, I approached a random American backpacker and asked if he wanted to come along. I soon learnt that his name was Scott and yes, he would like to come along for the ‘ride.’
Taupo is well known for its mountain biking trails. We followed the trail towards Huka Falls – here I was able to take some photos from another angle. There is also a free Spa Thermal Park along the way which is a great place for a steamy swim. We followed the trail to Craters of the Moon Bike Park. The trails here ranged from beginner to advanced and lead you through beautiful Pine Forest. We reached Craters of the Moon. The park earned its name for a reason – we followed the walkway through steaming craters, bubbling mud pools and volcanic activity - a very strange place! The bike trails leading us back to Taupo were for the adventurous – sharp downward turns and jumps – along with views of Waikato River.
Now? I sit in Element Bar with a bowl of Nachos, a glass of wine, a smile on my face and eager to see what the night brings.
Tomorrow I am back on the Stray Bus to head south towards Wellington, but not before a stop at Blue Duck Station and a 18km hike through the Tongariro Crossing – named as one of the top 10 hiking trails in the world!