It was time to leave Maraetai Lake behind and start heading home. We hit the road and travelled along with Dot and Derek to Lake Taupo – known as the Great Lake. Lake Taupo lies in a caldera created by a huge volcanic eruption 26,500 years ago. The eruption ejected a huge amount of material, and caused the surrounding land to collapse and form the caldera. This eventually filled with water and Lake Taupo was formed. After a spot of lunch at McDonalds and the use of their free WiFi to upload our latest blog, we had a look around then parted company with our friends. They were travelling the Taupo Napier Highway and we were heading down south on State Highway One. We decided to stop for the night at the Army Museum at Waiouru. Self contained campers can stay free overnight in the roomy car parks behind the building. Firstly we were required to let the souvenir shop know we wanted to park up for the evening, who advised that security staff patrol the grounds during the evening.
As we had arrived quite late in the afternoon, there was no time to visit the Waiouru Army Museum. This houses a permanent collection of historical New Zealand army equipment, photographs and memorabilia, and relates of New Zealand's military involvement in conflict from the Maori Land Wars to the more recent peacekeeping missions in the 21st century.
There was plenty to look at outside the buildings with various guns and tanks on display, although the cold wind seemed to be blowing straight off the mountains. Waiouru is situated on the Central Plateau and at 1074 metres above sea level it is always a cold and windy place.
Behind the car parks are two Type V Prism road blocks, extremely rare and the last known examples of this type. These were rescued by the Army Museum as they sat in the path of a new bridge development. Type V Prism road blocks were first erected in Paremata, Wellington, in 1942, during the expected Japanese invasion scare. They were made of concrete and poured on site. After the war years most of the road blocks ended up as land fill or used to stabilise sea walls.
No further travellers joined us in the car park, so we were the only ones staying overnight. The outside temperature dropped during the night but we were quite cosy tucked up in our caravan. We noticed the security man come and take a note of our car number plate, and he would have made regular patrols around the buildings and car parks during the night, so we felt quite safe. This museum is full of interest and we are sure to be back this way before too long to have a good look around. There is a Cafe on site, and we would qualify for admission into the Museum at senior rates, so that is always a bonus. The next morning after breakfast we were soon on the road again, driving the final 280km to take us home.