A nice calm morning at Taupo means that the little planes adjacent to the camp are loaded up with parachutists. Some were solos and some were tandem jumpers. They were dropping out of the planes like flies, and coming down fast. The tandem jumpers in particular seem to revel in making as much noise as they can while they are speedily dropping back to earth. Good on them, I say, there is no way I would be doing that. Not unless I was high-jacked and pushed out of the plane, hopefully with a parachute on my back, as an unwilling passenger. Then I would be screaming all the way too!
The reason so much on the camping ground is closed off is because the area has been re-grassed, we found out. This is a very popular area for camping, and people come and go every day. Some stay one night, others several days, and some seem to be long time campers and are always on site every time we visit.
Dogs are also causing problems here. Most owners are considerate and obey camp rules about keeping their dogs on a leash and not allowing them to run free. With the airport, the helicopter business, and several Sky Diving operations so close, dogs running loose could play havoc with public safety if they are not closely controlled. A sign has been posted warning owners of the harsh consequences of not abiding by the rules.
We continued along the Desert Road (SH1) and spotted Mount Ruapehu hiding under the clouds. This active volcano last came to life in 2007.
This area is not a “sandy” desert, but resembles a desert because of a poor soil quality and drying winds. The vegetation is low and sparse, consisting of mainly tussock. Known as the Central Plateau, much of the desert lies at an altitude of over 600 m (2,000 ft) above sea level. Due to the unproductive nature of the land and the extreme winter climate, the region is largely uninhabited. This inhospitable area is used by the army for training purposes.
After a welcome lunch stop at Hunterville, we made good time and arrived home safe and sound in the mid afternoon. No thanks to the truck and trailer driver who overtook us on a double yellow line north of Taihape. What an idiot – no wonder people have accidents.