What a glorious day to travel – the winds of the previous day had died right down, the sun was shining, and high temperatures were expected. We said goodbye to our neighbours at Taupo Airport site. The large group were off on a safari, travelling through the back-blocks to out of the way places, and ending back in Taupo in two weeks time. It certainly sounded like a great trip had been planned for them all.
With glimpses of snowy clad mountains peeping between the trees, we just had to stop at the Lookout at the top of the hill. And there in front of us, was the glorious view of Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngauruhoe looking oh so beautiful across the water of Lake Taupo. Several other cars were parked there too, so we didn’t have the view all to ourselves. A young Asian father with his toddler son were taking selfies with the lake and mountains in the background. The youngster was loudly proclaiming “Cheese” each time a photo was snapped – I was probably expecting more like “mei chow wing” or something more ethnic.
Views from the Lookout
I’d forgotten just how long and windy the Napier-Taupo road (SH5) was. It started off easily enough, climbing to a high plateau, past plantations of Pinus Radiata. Then up and down through hillsides covered in dense native bush, cleared areas for faming, and pine trees again. Robin remembers travelling over this road with his parents, on their first ever caravan adventure. Towing a hired caravan behind the family Mark 1 Zephyr, it was an arduous trip indeed, and the road was unsealed all the way back then. The car was never the same again, Robin recalls.
Traveling along SH5
In need of a break, we pulled into the Tarawera Café, one of several cafes along this busy road. And indulged in a very large date scone each and a drink to take on our way. This property is also a Park over Property for NZMCA members to stay the night, if they wish. Plenty of room in the large car park for caravans and campers, plus a handy ablution block.
Tarawera Café on SH5
Finally the road led us through the Esk Valley, planted with grapes galore, and we were off the hill road at last. Driving along past Bayview, we joined the Napier Hastings Expressway.
And made our way to one of our favourite places to stay, Dick and Elly Spiekerman’s delightful apple orchard property in Hastings. We have stayed here many times, and always receive a warm welcome each time we return. The plan is to have three nights here, and catch up with family members who live nearby.
Staying at the apple orchard
With temperatures ranging in the mid to late 20s, we should have a lovely sunny time in Hastings during our stay here.