So the plan for today, before heading further south was to visit the thermal village. By the time we had breakfast and packed away the tent it was nearing lunch before we got to the village, unfortunately it was set up for a full day visits. We thought we probably wouldn't get our moneys worth, and decided to move on and visit one in the next town.
Tonight we are going Bear Grills style and camping at a Department of Conservation (DOC) site, of which there are many spread throughout New Zealand, there are three different standards. The bottom being totally free with a compost toilet and a stream or river as your only supply of water, the second having the same style toilets but with drinking water but still no shower and have a minimal fee of £3-5. The third having more amenities and sometimes a hot shower and are priced at around £6-10.
The site we were staying at was the middle range, classed as a standard site. It took us a while to find the site as the directions weren't great, we followed a gravel track down to the lake and pitched the tent with a great view across the water. After a quick bite to eat we set off in the car to have a look at the next major town, Taupo, about 45 minutes south.
Driving around in New Zealand is a real joy, every corner you turn the views are breathtaking. There were some waterfalls marked on the map on the way into town so we pulled over to have a look. WOW! We have never seen anything like it, the falls were huge but the best thing about them was the colour of the water a brilliant aqua blue. We stood for a while and watched as guy in a canoe tackled the rapids down the waterfall and then continued into town.
Taupo is set on the largest lake in Australasia with snow capped mountains behind about 150 km away. The place is stunning, we walked around for a bit, visited the tourist information which wasn't helpful, got some shopping and returned to the campsite for a quiet evening in the middle of nowhere!