We got to Taupo around an hour before sunset so we headed straight to where we were staying for the night. There were two free parking spots near the town but one you could only park at from 5pm-9am so we opted for the other one. We had read on the app that it was a busy site but we didn't think it would be as busy as it was. The site was called Reid's Farm Reserve and was a massive grassed area, split into different sections, located on the edge of the Waikato River on Huka Falls Road. There were campers, cars, camper vans and caravans dotted everywhere around the fields! When we were driving around looking for somewhere to park some guy asked Nath if he wanted to buy some weed. It was a nice looking site, but had a lot of dossers staying on it! It was definitely the busiest place we have stayed but everyone was quiet really once the sun had set. It was a site where people lived on permanently.
On the 7th we drove to Huka Falls nice and early before any other tourists turned up. Huka Falls was amazing! The best waterfall we have seen! The water flows from Lake Taupo, Australasia's largest fresh water lake, into the Waikato River, New Zealand's longest river. At Huka Falls, the water rushes at around 250,000 litres per second through a sudden chasm and then over an 11m ledge, causing rushes of bright blue foamy water to hit the basin below. The river has the clearest water I have ever seen, it was unreal!
From Huka Falls we did a 5km walk to town along the Waikato River stopping at the thermal Spa Park on the way, a natural and free geothermal park with hot pools that flow into the Waikato River. I had a lovely soak in the pools and Nath relaxed his legs in the water. Near town we walked past the Taupo bungy and extreme swing and saw people having a go at both. It looked crazy over the crystal clear river! We had a walk around town and went to see the huge Taupo lake, which the town sits on the edge of. We went to a McD's, voted the coolest McD's in the world as it has a real plane that you can go up into and eat your food in. We did the 5km walk back to the falls to collect our van and then drove back to town to park up for the night.
We decided to stay at the other free parking spot for the night, Ferry Road Parking Bay, which was literally as the name explains. There were around 10 bays for campers to park in from 5pm-9am and when we got there at 4.30pm there were only 2 spots left, so people clearly abided by the signs, us included. The spot was ideal for the one night anyway as it was right in the town centre and it overlooked the lake. We couldn't see too much though as it wasn't that clear. For dinner we got a Hell's Pizza, which is a famous pizza chain in New Zealand, apparently something to try. We got a feast and to be fair it was delicious!
On the 8th we drove up to Aratiatia Rapids, 12km from Taupo town, further up the Waikato River. At 10am, and other times of the day, they released water through the dam there at a rate of 80,000 litres per second for 15 minutes, showing where the rivers natural path used to flow. It was crazy as we saw the valley before the water passed through and once they released the water, it covered everything that was there before. There was that much force that it covered all the rocks and formed a river path and large pool. After watching the rapids we set off to Tongoriro National Park.