Another sunny weekend, so you know what that means… another road trip!
This time we’re heading down to Lake Taupo and Mt. Rupehu, and bringing Chesney’s best friend with us. Ryan is heading off to Indonesia for 7 weeks starting this Monday, and is trying to squeeze in some bro time before he goes. I think that’s precious, but I’m not staying home, so we will all be broing it out together.
I work a glorious 4 hours on Friday morning and the boys pick me up outside my office at 1. We get on the road going south towards Lake Taupo.
I’ve driven down south twice before but have never stopped at anything of interest between Auckland and Rotorua. I thought all the cool stuff was along the “Geothermal Highway” between Rotorua and Taupo. But silly me, I forgot New Zealand is jam packed full of cool stuff, and shouldn’t have been surprised when Ryan suggests we hit the Blue Spring along the way, about 2 hours from Auckland.
Sounds cool, let’s do it.
It’s nice to break up the journey, because the straight drive from Auckland to Taupo would be about 5 hours. This is why we’re stopping in Taupo for the night. The more stops the better if you ask me!
We arrive at the Blue Spring and find the entrance has been blocked off by a closed gate, but judging by the drooping dents in the metal bars, it’s no big deal to hop over. I go first and the boys follow behind me, giving a little push to, not only the gate I just hopped over, but a secondary adjacent footpath gate as well.
The Blue Spring is a beautiful winding stream of crystal clear water, said to be sacred, and protected by the local Maori community. The boys tell me it was previously a popular swimming spot for tourists and locals who didn’t know (or I assume, didn’t care) about its cultural significance, but now fences and signage have been put in place to keep swimmers out. I’m not entirely sure why anyone would want to swim in this stream anyway, since it’s glacial fed and a brisk 11 degrees year round. No thanks.
We follow the boardwalk and trails along much of the spring but decide against doing the whole loop as we’ve still got a long drive ahead of us.
I get to drive the rest of the way to Taupo in Chesney’s giant Ford Ranger truck (or “ute” as they’re called here). It’s a nice ride but lord help me if I ever have to parallel park this thing or maneuver down a skinny street. Jesus take the wheel. I’m fortunate to find an easy parking spot when we arrive in town. We check to see if there’s space at the cheapest hostel we could find online. The front desk doubles as a mini lounge with some couches and a tv. By standing at the desk to check in, we’re blocking everyone’s view of the movie. Sorry?
The prices are reasonable at $18/night for a dorm, and $60 for a private room, as advertised online. They try to upsell Ches and I on a room with an ensuite bathroom for 80, but we just want the cheapest thing available. A little suspicious that there are so many advertisements for free earplugs… but we’re just here for one night. How bad can it be?
Our room is lackluster, with nothing but a bed, small closet, and a sink. Yes, just a functional sink next to the bed. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know. Ryan comes with us to drop off some stuff and stands at the end of the bed, re-organizing the contents of his bag while we settle in. I place ONE god damn knee on the bed, and it collapses. The leg snaps and the whole front corner goes down, landing on Ryan’s foot. Yikes, I don’t know him well enough for this to be funny but I can’t stop laughing. This is one of my greatest flaws; I laugh in inappropriate situations.
He’s fine, but I assume will have a pretty gnarly bruise. The bright side is that we get upgraded to that $80 room for free! Thanks for taking one for the team mate.
We’ve all basically skipped lunch besides a few road snacks, so we’re starving. I’m not sure there’s anything to do in Taupo after dark besides eat and drink, anyway. We wander around the town a little but end up settling on the Irish pub below our hostel (which explains the free ear plugs), and then head out to do some bar hopping. There isn’t much to choose from. The town is dead. It’s Friday night! What’s the deal??? It’s low season, I guess? I expect it’s much busier in the summer time, but still. The upside to Taupo being a ghost town is that we find a place where we can play unlimited pool and darts because there are literally only 3 other humans in the bar. One of these lovely patrons corners Chesney in the bathroom to tell him he “won’t be going anywhere tonight” because “all the roads are closed”… which is surely false. Needless to say, we leave shortly after. Like, where are we?!??!
We end up in another bar which is really more like a club; or at least is trying to be. It’s practically empty, but the few humans that are around can’t be much older than 20. I have a small quarter life crisis about how old I’ve become. On the upside, jugs are only $11! Life could be worse. I don’t want to write off Taupo’s nightlife completely but overall experience? Weird.