Doesn’t sound right, does it? Visiting Taupo usually means packing some winter woolies as the cold wind blows straight off the mountains and across the lake. Not on this trip though – it’s just a little like our trip to Darwin last year, feeling decidedly hot and sticky and trying to cool down outside under the awning. And swatting away at those pesky sand flies which come out in the early evening to torment us – it’s just like having a holiday in the tropics. We are staying at the NZMCA site at Taupo Airport, and there is now a large shed on site for campers to gather in, we notice. That will be handy in the colder months. You can see how hot and dry it has been up this way as most of the grass has burnt off.
The new shed for social gatherings
In the mornings most of the camp clears out and we are on our own. And then other campers start rolling in by mid to late afternoon to stay overnight or a little longer, depending on their plans. There is always a lot going on nearby, planes come and go at the airport just up the road, helicopters take off across the street, and hang-gliders drop out of the sky on sunny afternoons.
No neighbours in the mornings
After two really hot tropical days and nights the weather reverted to the cold blustery weather that we associate with Taupo. Not so bad for sightseeing, as we did on our last day in Taupo. First up was the historic Tapuaeharuru Redoubt, found just behind the Police Station. This was constructed in 1870 by No. 6 Division of the Armed Constabulary, for defence against the Maori Chief Te Kooti. However, no fighting eventuated, and it was abandoned in 1885. The redoubt contained a telegraph station, barrack room, officers quarters, mess room, reading room, cookhouse and magazine. The totara weatherboard magazine clad with pumice blocks (1874) is the only surviving building, along with the earthworks of the redoubt.
The withdrawal of British soldiers began in 1866. They were replaced with a locally raised force known as the Armed Constabulary and friendly Maori. As well as peace keeping duties, the men were also expected to carry out public works, such as building roads, bridges and fences, and installing telegraph lines. The armed constables enjoyed the local hot springs and set up their own swimming pool – the AC Baths. An updated version of the baths is still popular today.
Members of the Armed Constabulary
With that history lesson out of the way, Robin wanted to check out a couple of camping spots he had heard about on the shores of Lake Taupo. The first was Whakaipo Bay Recreation Reserve, a DOC Camp, and we drove down a dirt road to the lake side. Self contained campers are permitted to camp here for 4 nights.
Plenty of room for camping overnight
The lake side at Whakaipo Bay
Next on the agenda was Kinloch – it had been quite some time since we were last there. NZMCA members are welcome to stay at Kinloch Marina, and at $15 a night for a powered site it seemed a good deal to us. So that is two “new to us” places we could stay at next time we are up this way.
After all that sight-seeing and driving around we told ourselves we deserved an ice-cream from the local dairy. And then checked out yet another view of Lake Taupo.
View of the lake from Kinloch
And to celebrate the end of our time here in Taupo, we took ourselves out to dinner to the Taupo Cossie Club. It was quite some years since we have dined there, so we were interested to see how it was these days. Although the restaurant was very busy, we asked one of the obliging staff who kindly took our photo for us.
After a bit of contemplation, we decided on our orders - steak for him and scallops for her, followed by desserts. The presentation of the meals were lovely, and the food tasted wonderful.
Scallops and steak
Tomorrow we will be packing up and heading home, and hopefully the wind will have blown itself out over night. Its not much fun towing in strong blustery conditions. We will be stopping somewhere or other overnight, can’t rush these trips home, can we.