This morning we went into Taupo for a walk around town as we’ve never had a good look at the shops. We’ve always just passed through or stopped at those shops we’ve needed. This time we wandered around town for a few hours, crossing streets as the showers came down, but enjoyed the varied and many shops we visited. We found a nice cafe that did home made food and grabbed some lunch to have in the van back at the park. Julie got a nice spinach and feta quiche (more a cup than a quiche) and I got a lamb sausage roll, and we both shared a kaleslaw (a coleslaw made out of kale) – 10 out of 10 for all of it! Harrison had a Golden Arches special wrap with Brie cheese which looked nice.
After lunch we decided to use the time to visit the Craters of the Moon geothermal park just north of Taupo. It was a bit of a gamble with the weather as the clouds were still low and threatening, but we took the risk that it wouldn’t rain. The site is managed by a charitable trust so the entry fee is very reasonable ($20 for us all) and the walk is said to be 45 minutes, though if you add the side track to the top of the hill, giving you great views over Taupo and the geothermal field, it adds up to an hour.
It’s definately a strange and alien landscape – once you walk the first 100m or so you rise over a hill to see a vista of steam rising from various areas. Then when you stop and take the time to look around, you realise there is steam coming from just about everywhere, even right in front of you. There are fumaroles right next to the walking track which allow you to put your hands over the steam. There’s hardly any smell but it feels so warm and inviting. You can actually feel the heat coming up from under the boardwalk.
We really enjoyed the walk and were glad we did it. I took some photos on my good camera, and even though it wasn’t ideal photography weather, the low clouds, rising steam funnels and the colour of the earth leant themselves to some spectaular photos. I once read that sometimes when it feels like it’s too miserable to be outside, these are the best times for dramatic photos. The Wikipedia entry for the Craters probably explains it the best.