Lake Taupo is the largest lake in New Zealand, and it is also one of the largest caldera lakes in the world. The massive eruptions that created Lake Taupo started 26,500 years ago, and the last eruption in 180 AD created ash clouds that caused visible effects to the sky at far as China and Russia. Nowadays, the volcano is no longer active, and Lake Taupo becomes a hub for outdoor activities and water sports, especially during summer. During winter, the region is renowned for world class ski resorts. But for us, especially on a rainy day like this, all we wanted to do is just we say we have been to Lake Taupo and know what it looks like, and if we were lucky enough, take a glimpse of the snowy mountain caps if Mt Tongariro when the sky clears up a little. So with that thought, we hopped onto our car and embarked on a leisure drive down to Lake Taupo.
From Rotorua to Taupo township which is right on the shores of Lake Taupo takes about an hour. When we left Rotorua we could still see some clear skies, but it started pouring down very soon. Even in rain, the drive was a beautiful one, with the winding road cutting through rolling hills and farm lands. The scenery was so picturesque that I would have stopped every five minutes to take a picture if not for the quite busy traffic and the pouring rain. Eventually the rain stopped just when we reached a beautiful set of farm fields with a siding by the road. So I pulled over and took a few snaps quickly before it started to rain again.
Just before reaching Taupo about 15 minutes away is the famous Huka Falls. It is the largest waterfall in the North Island, and is where Lake Taupo flows into the Waikato River. When we got there, it was pouring down, but we decided to go and have a look anyway, since the viewpoint was only 5 minutes walk from the car park anyway. In fact, I was quite excited, as heavy rainfall would mean decent water flow that would make a waterfall even more majestic to see. And I was not disappointed! As soon as I stepped out of the car, we could hear rumbling sound of the rapids. And as we stepped onto the wooden bridge, we were awestruck by the raging waters gushing through the narrow opening, as the water was squeezed through a 50 m gorge down the Mighty Waikato downhill. As we walked further we got a glimpse of the waterfall itself. Like a giant runaway tap the water, blue and crisp, thundered down the 11 m drop. The impact created pure white foam that spread down the river like cream floating on frappe. A pretty magnificent sight to behold! After the detour to Huka Falls, we continued our way to the Taupo Lake front. Unfortunately it was raining cats and dogs by now and there was pretty much zero chance to see the snowy Mt Tongariro in the distance.
In fact, when we reached the pier at the lakefront, the visibility across the lake is next to zero. But there were gatherings of ducks and seagulls on the lawns beside the lakefront, seemingly unfazed by the heavy rain and the high wind. I hurriedly took a few shots without leaving the car to prove that we were here, and then moved on.