|After a full day of caving I then had to wait to leave for Taupo.
To get to Taupo we drove through farm land and sheep country. Nothing too exciting so most people watched a movie.
Once in Taupo everyone except me and 3 other people got off the bus at the Taupo airport. The big draw in this town in the "Cheap as Chips" skydiving. I didn't come to NZ to jump out of a plane so I opted out. It costs $150 NZD for a skydive, but then another $150 for any decent evidence of the jump. I think I would rather save my money at this point towards a 3 day sailing trip in Australia of the Whitsundays Islands. Other than the skydive there are many things to do in Taupo but most of the activities I already conquered in Queenstown. As a result Taupo is a less exciting place for me, but who cares.
The big thing for me about Taupo is walking the Tongariro Crossing. This is a 17 km day hike through the volcanic center of the North Island. This is apparently the best one day walk in New Zealand. It involves walking through the red crater of mount Tongariro and walking past the foot of Mount Ngurahoe (aka Mt Doom from Lord of the Rings). The walk was great and I got some more great photos. The track was covered in lots of snow and when we walked through the crater I thought I was on a farm pasture in Canada because I was trying to find the thick snow pack so I wouldn't sink. There are also several points on the track where it is easier and more fun to slide down big hills on your butt. Slides have been made and as long as no ice has formed it is pretty painless. The weather is very changeable so I went with a guided tour of the track. They make sure that you have the right equipment and have beacons in case you slip and die or something. I over-estimated the difficulty of the trip and was first off the track, just behind the lead guide. I think if I had walked on my own I would have finished sooner. I think the horse-whippings that I recieved at EMEND, and the 5 day hike I did in Nelson Lakes national park have made me a better hiker than the average joe.
Overall a great hike, if you are in NZ you have to do it. You have to. Climbing the "Devils Staircase" is great. I was here for 3 days and did the hike while waiting to go on the "East As" portion of the Kiwi Experience which goes out to the east cape of NZ.