Day 11 Taupo
Today is going to be a busy day, couple of activities booked and a look around some falls. After another early wake up, I head out of the Debretts camp ground and head north to New Zealand’s most visited natural attraction, the Huka Falls. With the amount of water coming down the 15m wide canyon and over the waterfall, it is another great site to see and it’s free. One source said on average, you can fill an Olympic size swimming pool every 11 seconds. These falls are on the Waikato River, the only river that exits from Lake Taupo. There is plenty to do around here with a few nice walks, mountain bike tracks or you can take a jet boat up the river, right to the base of the falls. For me though I just joined the rest of other tourists down at the falls then up at one of the lookouts, and took lots of pictures of the bright blue water glowing against the rock and native bush surrounding it. Well worth the look.
By now its nearly time for my next activity for the day, one that I’ve been looking forward to for a while, drive a race car around Taupo race track. Formula Challenge is a company that let you race 2 kinds of race cars around the track (for a small fee 😊). You can choose between an V8 touring car, a single seater or both if you like. Today I have chosen to race the Single seater as I’ve never driven one before. Upon my arrival, we fill out the paper work out, sign my life away and then head in for a briefing, for all the how’s, when’s and whys. We then get dressed in out lovely overalls and head over in the nice sunshine to pit lane. Once in pit lane the guys gave us the rest of our racing gear and we set off in one of their company cars to be shown around the track and how we should be driving the cars.
By now the nerves are starting to creep in as well as the excitement levels rising. We get back to pit lane only for the rain to come in, not a good start. We wait around for a few mins then they decide it should be fine to head out. I was first away, the cars must be push started but when you drop the clutch and the engine roars into life, the sound and the fact your squashed into this little rocket ship, just got my adrenaline pumping. First lap around was a bit of a learning curve, just taking it slow as the track was still quite wet with slick tyres on and learning how to use the gears. The next lap however I decided I’m going to push it a bit more. As I exited the second corner, putting my foot down, around I go, the rear tyres lost traction and I spun 180 degrees, now pointing in the wrong direction and I managed to stall the engine :(. After this they called us all in to change the tyres to wets as it looked like more rain was on its way.
Now on Wet tyres we start again, this time I was a lot easier on the throttle for the first few laps before trying my luck on a faster lap, it didn’t work, the rain had start to fall again and with a steady flow of water coming over turn 3, around I go again. This time though I almost did a 360 spin and managed to keep the engine running so was able to re-join and carry on. The rest of the session went to plan, passing one of the slower cars and improving my lap times. The checked flag came out and time to head back to pits. Now my adrenaline was overflowing, I just had to do it again. So, after the other cars had come back in and paying a bit more cash I did another session. This time the track had started to dry out a bit and managed to cut 6 seconds off my first-round times but it wasn’t without incident, I manged to come into corner 7 way to fast and just skidded of the track into the gravel trap, I managed to keep my foot down and get back out on track, taking half the gravel with me, don’t think the guys were too happy with me. This has got to be up there as one of the best things I’ve done and will be back to give it a go in the dry. To be sitting only inches off the ground, wedged and strapped into an enclosure with and engine and 4 wheels strapped to it, doing crazy speeds in the wet, it’s pretty hard to beat. Think I might just end the road trip now a buy a race car 😊
After the adrenaline had settled down and I had left the race track it was time to take things to a much slower pace, this afternoon was going to be cruising Lake Taupo on a sailing boat. I joined the Barbary scenic cruise out to the Maori carving on one of the lakes edges. This is a nicely restored 1920’s sail vessel. With bean bag like seating on deck for everyone to just lay back and take in the scenic view as we sail into the sun and around the point to the carving, while feasting on pizza and a beverage of your choice. It was such a change from the events earlier on but was so nice just to lay back and relax. Once around the point and into Mine bay, you get to see the massive 10m high Maori carving in the side of the rock as well as a few around the edges. This is a great sight to see, the largest Maori carving in the world. After sailing right in close and taking a few photos we head out a little bit and the skipper asked if there was anyone brave enough to take a swim in the Lake, knowing it wasn’t the warmest, a few of us put our hands up so off we went. Woow the was cold, after a quick doggie paddle around we were all jumping straight back out, nice and refreshing but sure takes your breath away when you hit the water. The sun was starting to go behind a few clouds and it was time for home. A nice breeze had come up and we sailed all the way back to the marina, everyone just chilled out and enjoying the piece and quiet. After docking up it was time to head back to camp for dinner and rest my head ready for another exciting day with a jet boat ride and tour booked.