Day 12 – Taupo
Today is another busy activity day, only one but going to take up most of the day. I have chosen to do the Ultimate Squeeze. It is run by a company situated in-between Taupo and Rotorua, called New Zealand River jet. They do a few different tours but this is the one I chose. The Ultimate Squeeze is a combined Tour of some of the sites around Taupo, if that’s where you get picked up from, with a fantastic 2.5 hour jet boat ride and stop off at the Squeeze. I get picked up at 9am by Tony, my Tour guide for today. First stop is going to be the Taupo View Look out. Great place to get a good view of the lake and surroundings. He tells me a bit about the history of the area and points out the volcano Rim which is much larger than the lake itself and how Taupo last erupted around 1800 years ago. I took a few photos and off we went.
Next up was supposed to be the Huka falls but because I did them yesterday he decides to take me up to one of the lookouts for a quick look and a few more pictures. Saying that it’s a lot higher than normal because of the rain over the past few days. We leave the falls and next thing he wants to show me is the Aratiatia Dam, this is Dam was created, like many others in the country, for hydroelectric power stations. The cool thing about this one is they open the flood gates 3-4 times a day, releasing around 80,000 litres of water filling up the rapids on the other sides and over into the Waikato river. We head to the bridge overlooking the rapids then head around a little track to get another view. The Flood gates haven’t been running because of an incident a few weeks ago, but to our surprise the alarms started ringing and the gates opened. Was quite cool site to see all the water gushing out and fill the rapids up in just seconds. Pictures above.
Time for the next stop was at the Wai-O-Tapu mud pools, another one of those things I’ve driven past many times but never stop in to have a look. The Rotarua and Taupo area has a lot of geothermal activity, and these pools are a good little stop off if you’re doing the trip between the two towns on state highway 5. We were running out of time so a quick stop to watch the mud bubbling and a few pics before we jump back in the car and head to the New Zealand River jet base.
When we arrived, the boat was already waiting for me, so I quickly thanked Tony for the great tour, put on my life jacket and nice Croc’s, then headed down to our jet boat for the day. Another one of the great guides there is Jeremy, he was our drive for the afternoon. He starts the two v8 engines and off we go, spinning the boat around for a quick couple of photos then head down the Waikato River, before long Jeremy stops the boat and then introduces himself, tell us what’s installed for the day and finishes off with a Karakia (Maori Prayer). The engines roar into life again and we head down the scenic river, sticking close to the edge, getting as close as he can to some of the trees to give a few of the guests a scare. He explains a few things along the way about the way the early Maoris used the river, showed us a cave where they use to hide the woman and children when the tribes were fighting, before showing us a few trout coming out of a small stream.
One of the other tours you can do is the Thermal Safari, you do the same jetboat ride but get dropped off at Orakei Korako, we dropped off two of the guests to take a walk around the area with lots of geothermal activity, like the bubbling mud, Emerald terraces and geysers. Not too much further down the river is where we all jumped out of the boat and start walking up a little creek towards what’s known as the Squeeze. This place is pretty awesome, the creek water is all naturally heated by a hot spring and with native forest hanging over head. We get to this narrow opening in the rock, this is why it’s called the Squeeze, you turn sideways and squeeze your way through the rock for a short distance, sometimes in waist deep water, climb over a few underwater rocks and pop out the other side.
We then head along the stream a bit further and come to another great natural site, a little water fall, we all head in for a turn getting a nice warm shoulder massage by the water and get a few photos taken by Jeremy. As we leave he says there’s another surprise, and tells us to head up these stairs and follow the track around, we get there to find a nice little swimming hole and jump straight in. Nice and relaxing as the water is around a warm bath temperature. After making a few holes in some pumice stones, we take our wrinkly body’s back out the squeeze to the boat.
The ride home is a lot faster down the flat scenic river, the only time we stop is when Jeremy decides to put the boat into a 360 spin, scaring a few people, before carrying on back to base, narrowly missing more trees, a few ducks, the bridge and showing off his driving skills before doing one last spin for a few final pictures. It was a great way to finish a fantastic trip. From the adrenaline of the jet boat ride to the relaxing hot water pool and everything in-between.
By now its mid-afternoon and time for home. After a few thanks to the great guides from the day I get driven back to camp by their lovely receptionist Shannen. The rest of my afternoon is pretty chilled out with only a quick look around town then an early night before the early start and big day tomorrow.