This time we thought we’d camp at Five Mile Beach rather than the NZMCA camp near the airport. On arrival we noticed one caravan perched on a rise overlooking the lake, and as we are too long to fit into a normal parking spot right beside the lake this seemed an excellent option. We had a lovely view of the lake minimally obscured by a campervan below us.
That first evening there was a wonderful cloud formation with many others to follow on subsequent days. Penny loved meeting all the other dogs on their twilight strolls.
Lake Taupo is a popular spot for para-sailing as well as all sorts of other water sports. Parachuting is also avilable at the nearby airport. While we were shopping in town the next day a small plane full of would-be parachutists crashed into the lake not too far from the camp; the pilot and all passengers jumped to safety and were rescued – and we missed it all.
Penny’s ball fell into the lake so Dave simply stripped and went in too … that was on a weekeday, the following weekend the whole “beach’ was thronged with swimmers right into the late evening.
We spent a lovely few days catching up with Dave’s old friends and some newer ones who with a little encouragement (after all it was quite a narrow strip of hilly land) parked their caravan right behind us. We tried out some local hot springs but the Lake’s coolness also beckoned. Dave retrieved a huge piece of natural pumice stone floating past him.
We went to watch the Aratiatia Rapids which carry water from Lake Aratiatia towards the Waikato river. There is a power station at the end of the lake and at set times every day the spill gates are open for a short time. This creates a fantastic display of foaming water. We watched from an excellent viewing point fromt which we could just see the dam and the people standing on top of it waiting for the spill gates to open. Dave says it was quite an audible display, first the warning sirens then the water tumbling out through the gates and coming roaring down the gorge. Here’s a series of photos which I hope will convey some of the excitement.
Spill gates just opening…
It only lasted about 15 minutes then the water began to go down again.