While traveling the North Island, I kept passing through Taupo instead of actually spending any time there. One time I finally did stop.
Jono and I were on our way back from a weekend trip near Hamilton. Huka Falls and the “Craters of the Moon” had been on my mind since I passed through Taupo on several occasions prior.
Stopping to visit both was definitely worth it. The bubbling Earth of the geothermal field and the gushing power of the falls were awesome to behold. The best part? Laughing at the expense of frightened tourists riding in speedboats down the river!
Craters of the Moon
New Zealand balances on top of the Pacific and Indo Australian Plates making it a hot bed of geothermal activity (much like Iceland).
The Craters of the Moon are part of the Taupo Volcanic Zone from South of Tongariro National Park all the way North into the Bay of Plenty. The field is covered in multiple collapsing craters, steaming vents, and bubbling mudpools.
An $8 per adult cover charge gets you in for an hour walk. A wood plank path weaves safely across the field where different lookout points allow for observation.
The soil and rocks here are all different colors. The yellows and reds form from condensed steam and gas, while green algae forms around the vents. The colors used to be used as dyes in garment making among natives.
Mudpools bubble from escaping steam and gas beneath the surface. They were still bubbling down deep even when I visited during New Zealand’s Winter. These pools stink of hydrogen sulphide—but nowhere near as stinky as Iceland!
New Zealanders learned how to harness geothermal energy for a highly economical and sustainable source of power. The very first geothermal power station in the world was created here in 1958—the Wairakei Powerstation. Locals use the thermal activity for heating their homes, drying crops, and more.
After my brief visit to Taupo I started hearing about Huka Falls. I had heard its beautiful and powerful and an incredible vivid blue color. I was glad to have another opportunity to pass through Taupo and check it out before leaving New Zealand.
I walked across a bridge to get my first view up the Waikato river and down toward the falls.
According to an information sign on this bridge, the falls will one day work their way upstream from erosion. The bridge I stood on would no longer be there.
The falls were tremendously beautiful. They shimmer a clear, crisp blue color filtered out from Lake Taupo. The falls create masses of bubbles or “foam” which is the Maori meaning behind the word “Huka.”
Huka Falls dumps 200,000 liters every; second, or enough water to fill five Olympic swimming pools in one minute! This makes it extremely dangerous. Getting pulled under would mean almost certain death if caught in the grasp of its undertow.
Witness THE POWER:
Speed boats on the river
Nevertheless, some people actually pay money to get as close as they can to it.
Many people recommended visiting Huka Falls by taking a speed boat ride up to it. While I love a good thrill, I wasn’t so keen on the speedboat ride since I get my fill of boating back home. Instead, I decided to watch others get scared as they drove up to it.
A speedboat captain is trained to drive extremely expertly but wrecklessly up the narrow Waikato River and then precariously close to the falls.
I must be a sadist because hearing all the tourists screams made me chuckle.
I enjoyed it so much, I took a bit of video for you to enjoy!
I am certain there is much more to do in the Taupo region I still haven’t had the opportunity to check out. After all, Taupo is considered the adventure capital of the North Island, in opposition to Queenstown on the South Island. But for some leisurely, budget sight-seeing, these two activities were definite New Zealand must-dos!