Category: Life

A bit of sightseeing!

A bit of sightseeing!

Where do you start when you’re wanting to do a bit of sightseeing for a day in the Taupo region?  There is SO much to do…

We only had the one day, so decided on the Huka Falls (you just can’t go to Taupo and not visit there – it’s like eating pies without tomato sauce!) and Orakei Korako, the Hidden Valley thermal area, which we picked as it’s one of my favourite places, and it doesn’t smell too putrid which is a benefit to those with more “delicate” nostrils hehe!

The Huka Falls are just beautiful.  The most stunning shades of turquoise blue, mixed with frothing white water.  They are on the Waikato River, which drains Lake Taupo.  A few hundred metres upstream from the falls, the river narrows from around 100 metres across to 15 metres.  The canyon was created during the time of Taupo’s massive Oruanui eruption, which occurred approximately 26,500 years ago.

Caitlyn getting her phone ready to take a video at the Huka Falls
Caitlyn getting her phone ready to take a video at the Huka Falls

A huge volume of water rushes through, sometimes as high as 220,000 litres per second!  The flow rate is regulated by Mighty River Power through the Taupo Control Gates.  All part of the hydro system planning that the Waikato Regional Council dictate.

At the top of the falls is a set of small waterfalls, which drop over about 8 metres.  The final stage is a huge 6 metre drop, which actually raises to 11 metres by the depth of the water.

Huka Falls
Huka Falls

It’s a hugely popular place, and being the first day in a week that wasn’t raining, every other tourist in the area had the same idea as us, make the most of the sun!  The carpark was full but having 4wd utes, the lovely carpark attendant allowed us to drive halfway up a bank and perch precariously on the side.

We wandered down, batting aside the seething mass of tourists, and wedged ourselves on the first bridge.  What a special place this is!!!!  Just glorious…..  We took our time and I have to say that for the amount of people there, every single person was courteous.  It was great!

It actually wasn’t planned that they were all wearing either black or grey!!!! Tobi aged 9, Caitlyn aged 15, Zachary aged 10, Riley aged 12, Amber aged 12.

Next stop was Orakei Korako.  When I worked at Flight Centre in Greymouth, many many moons ago (because I am the ancient vintage of 40 after all….!) I used to drive every day from Hokitika to Greymouth to go to work, and would listen to the radio.  There were these ads about Orakei Korako, advertising that it was a hidden valley, accessed only by boat.  I always remembered those ads and had a vision in my head of what Orakei Korako was about (I was completely wrong by the way – I tend to have a rather vivid imagination).

You’re going to have to bear with me here, I LOVE this place and you need to read all about it…..


Orakei Korako is Maori, meaning “The Place of Adorning”.  It’s a highly active geothermal area, most noted for its series of fault-stepped sinter terraces.  In the early 19th century, the Maori population congregated here, probably attracted by the hot springs, which they used for cooking and bathing.  We don’t know when they left the area but it’s been suggested that they left after the eruption of Mount Tarawera in 1886, because of great changes in the hot springs.

The earliest known route from Rotorua to Taupo for early European travellers passed right through Korakei Korako, and it was the last two remaining Maori families in the area who provided a dugout canoe to get people visitors across the then-swift Waikato River.  In the 1930’s, a wire strop and pulley system was erected.  The tourist resort was officially opened on 15 December 1937.


In 1955 the proposal for a power development was fianally approved (it had been first proposed in 1904).  By May 1960 an earth-filled dam, rising 49 metres above the river level was placed and consolidated.  The filling of Lake Ohakuri began on 19 January 1961 and was completed in 14 days.  Two of the world’s largest geysers were sadly drowned by the lake, one used to erupt up to 90 metres high (the same size as the Steamboat Geyser in Yellowstone National Park), and the Orakeikorako Geyser which blew to 55 metres, the geyser from which the whole area was named.  Also flooded were 200 alkaline hot springs and 70 other geysers.  Some of these features still discharge and are evident as gas bubbles rising from vents in the lake bed.

The lowest terrace is the jade-green Emerald Terrace.  It’s the largest of its kind in NZ since the presumed destruction of the famed Pink and White Terraces in the Mount Tarawera eruption of 1886.  The Emerald Terrace continues down 35 metres under the lake.


Even with the loss of two thirds of its thermal features under the artificial lake, Orakei Korako remains the largest geyser field in NZ with up to 35 active geysers.  The most famous is the Diamond Geyser, totally unpredictable with eruptions that can last from minutes to hours, ejecting boiling water as high as 9 metres.

The three terraces above the lakeside Emerald Terrace are great fault scarps formed by a massive earthquake in 131 AD, around the time when Lake Taupo was last erupting.  The are mostly covered in hot water algae with different species presenting in different colours.

At the top of the third terrace is the Artist’s Palette, a 10,000 m2 silica sinter terrace covered with clear blue alkali chloride pools and irregularly erupting geyers.  To one side of this terrace, a new geyser began to erupt in 2001, possibly the beginnings of a further terrace.  Cool aye!


There are plenty of other features at Orakei Korako, such as the Ruatapu Cave, one of only two caves in the world known to exist in a geothermal field.  The cave extends 45 metres, with a vertical drop of 23 metres, to a shallow pool of clear, sulfate-rich, warm acid water.  The pools chemical composition gives it the unique ability to clean jewellery.

We wandered around the well formed paths for a couple of hours, soaking in the exquisite scenery, and as we walked back down towards the boat, the heavens opened.  It was such awesome timing that we had seen all we had set out to see before it started raining.

We took the wee boat back across to the visitors centre and decided to have a late lunch there.  Prices were really reasonable and we had sandwiches, pies and sausage rolls with some cold drinks.  I really am impressed with pricing up in the North Island.  I think places like Queenstown are just taking the mickey with their costs, you’d think up north you were in a different country!

More pool time this afternoon and a yummy home cooked meal of Spaghetti Bolognaise followed by a night swim!  We are in Paradise…..










The Lake Taupo Holiday Resort

The Lake Taupo Holiday Resort (previously called the Top 10 Holiday Park Taupo), is the most fantastic destination for families with kids.  The thermally heated lagoon pool is the biggest of its type in the Southern Hemisphere and cost over two million dollars to build, and the kids (and big kids) can play and splash around for hours.  The water is warmer than the water in Fiji year round!

Taupo Holiday Resort

A swim-up café and bar has everything from coffee to a cheeky wee cocktail on offer and there’s also a giant poolside screen that shows sports and movies, almost around the clock.


There are parts of the pool for all ages, with a lovely wee lagoon style paddling pool for toddlers, complete with a toadstool fountain.  There’s a massive spa, and a cave with the water in there an impressive depth of 4 metres that you swim to under a waterfall.  The kids particularly loved that area and would dive to try and reach the bottom.  Kids under 16 aren’t allowed in the cave without adults and the staff were great at doing spot checks.


The accommodation is varied and well positioned.  There are powered and non-powered sites, and a variety of cabins to suit every configuration and budget.

We stayed in the Wimbledon Cottage, a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom unit overlooking the tennis courts.  It’s a fantastic set-up, the only gripe being there is no oven in the unit, which isn’t ideal when you’re trying to cook for 11 people.  The communal BBQ’s in the grounds come in handy though!

Wimbledon Cottage

The morning was spent sleeping in, relaxing and waiting for the groceries that we’d ordered to be delivered.  Countdown provide a great online service.  It’s how I do all my grocery shopping at home and I thought I’d give it a whirl on holiday too.  It went without a hitch!  Dad and Jase cooked up a mean feed of sausages for lunch that we had with bread and salad.  I don’t normally like sausages but these were beef beauties from the Kaniere butcher in Hokitika.  They were amazing!

During the afternoon, the 3 boys hired out some wee bikes and burnt off a bit of energy with an hour long zoom around the park.  They absolutely loved it!  Once they were finished we all hit the pool, where the kids ordered their first drink at a swim up bar.  They all thought they were the coolest kids on the planet, and sat there swigging their cokes and sprites like the best bar proppers.


Caitlyn and I enjoyed a mocktail each, and I have to say, the prices were really reasonable.  Being a captive audience, they could charge what they like but the kids drinks were only $4.00 each and our mocktails were $6.50 each.  Really good value for the size. 

Taupo Holiday Resort 2

Jase and I were called upon in the early evening to help out an 11 year old who had fallen off his bike.  He had broken both wrists, hit his head and hurt his neck when he had fallen and was in a serious amount of pain. Jase and I took over his care, organised the ambulance and assisted the paramedics.  The wee lad was back the next day with two casts on and came knocking at our door (with his head as his arms weren’t working) and had a box of chocolates under his arm for us.  Warm fuzzies!  It was so nice to help someone again, and made us both miss our ambo jobs (for an instant anyway).  Unfortunately the politics at St John are so intense that neither of us would consider returning at this stage.  The politics bled the joy out of the job.

Dinner was a mixture of Tracey’s butter chicken and rice, and my honey soy chicken noodle stirfry.  We were all tired so it was another early night.  Tomorrow we’re out sightseeing, bring it ON!







If we were flying, we’d be in Singapore!

If we were flying, we’d be in Singapore!

We decided on a Summer family holiday in Taupo this year.  It mean’t a ferry ride rather than a plane flight, and a huge roadie to get there.  In fact, the roadie was so big that if we were flying, we’d be in Singapore by now!  Luckily most of us like road trips.  Those that don’t just hunkered down for the big day with ipods, ipads and pillows.

Leaving Nelson
Leaving Nelson

We got up at 5.50am and were on the road at 6.45am.  I was half expecting issues getting 5 kids up and moving (on a school day, it’s damn near impossible even with an early night and a later wake up call) but when a holiday is on offer, they are rolling out of bed even before their eyes are open.

We’d packed the night before with clothes out all ready to be climbed into, so it ended up being quite painless.  All kids were fed, watered, and organised.  We stopped at the McDonalds drive-through, to just top up the tanks with hash browns.

Two hours later we were in Picton where our two car convoy met up with Mum and Dads at the check in area.  We were parked on the rail deck on the Aratere ferry, and were the first in (and first out which was awesome!).

The kids were super excited, Riley and Tobi hadn’t been on the ferry before and Caitlyn, Amber and Zach were excited to be going again with the boys for their first time.  The general rule on the ferry to the North Island is that if the winds are northerly, you’ll get smooth, calm seas, even if it’s windy.  If it’s a southerly, watch out.

Luckily for us, it was a northerly.  Mild swells of 1 metre.  No problem.  We went straight upstairs to the back deck and watched as the horn sounded and we departed.  Then Jase and Craig took the kids to get something to eat (because they’d gone two hours without food, heaven forbid!).

We sat on the deck for the majority of the crossing, with various wee groups going off to explore at different stages.  Mum, Tracey, Caitlyn, Amber and I went down to get cups of tea for everyone at one stage and it felt quite rough downstairs.  We were lurching from side to side, and it instantly reminded me of Jason and my disastrous cruise.  In that moment I remembered why I said I’d never do another one…  and these were only 1 metre swells!  I used to have fantastic sea-legs but as I’ve grown up (gotten older, crustied, matured, wrinkled…..), they’ve fallen by the wayside apparently.

If you haven’t been on New Zealand’s Interislander ferry, then I urge you to make the trip…..  It’s not travel, it’s an experience.

The first ten minutes of the Picton ferry journey takes you to the entrance of the Grove Arm, at the end of which you’ll see Anakiwa in the distance. Here the Cook Strait ferry swings right and enters the Queen Charlotte Sound.  With the hills of Marlborough surrounding you and the sheltered waters calm and placid, sailing through the Marlborough Sounds feels more like cruising along a large river.

After passing Allports Island and a number of huge bays on the left, the Interislander’s route through the Marlborough Sounds takes a sharp right turn around Dieffenbach Point and begins its journey through the Tory Channel.

The initial turn in to the Tory Channel is a broad 90° swing from northeast to southeast. Shortly after, the ship will swing 90° back to an east heading. The Cook Strait ferries like to pass in this section, we passed one here and one further on.

You’ll also pass some King Salmon farms midway along the Tory Channel. These will appear as large square platforms, which the fish are bred inside. Shortly after these, the Picton to Wellington ferry will turn and head north towards the end of the Tory Channel

Sailing out of the Tory Channel is an event you should definitely be outside for. If you are on Kaitaki or Kaiarahi, then take a starboard spot (on the right-hand side of the ship). If you are on Aratere then you can stand on the bow and watch it all unfold.

The exit to the Cook Strait is invisible as the ship travels along the Tory Channel and it seems as though the ship is sailing into a dead-end.  The Cook Strait exit becomes visible quite late on and is very narrow.  The exit requires yet another 90° turn, which makes the ship’s course all the more dramatic.

It’s a beautiful journey, and well worth the time.  It’s good value for money too, with passenger only fares starting at about $38.00 per person.

On our arrival into Wellington, we were asked to go down to our vehicles and wait.  It was only a matter of about 10 minutes and we were on our way, heading north.  We’d decided to stop in the Kapiti Coast area to give the kids some lunch (more McDonalds, I know, parents of the year award right here!), but realised as we headed along the brand new highway, that McDonalds had disappeared down an exit.  Sorry kids!  We ended up stopping another 30 minutes down the track at Levin to feed 5 ravenous mouths (have I mentioned how much they eat?!).

Mum and Dad were about 45 minutes behind us as they’d stopped at Parliament on the way out.  The weather was deteriorating as we headed north.  We drove through a spectacular cloud formation at Taihape followed by an impressive cloud burst.  I do love a good storm!  It cleared within about 10 minutes leaving us with a pretty good view through the Desert Road, one of my favourite parts of this fabulous country.

Fantastic Storm Colours going through Taihape
Fantastic Storm Colours going through Taihape

The Desert Road takes you through the Central Plateau and the main feature (well, for this die hard volcano fan anyway) are the awe-inspiring volcanoes in the area.  Mt Ruapehu is magnificent, it’s sheer size and imposing power are apparent as soon as it comes into view.  Next up is the beautiful cone shaped (quintessential volcano) Mt Ngauruhoe.  This is basically attached to the historically grouchy Mt Tongariro, a beautiful beast that is visible from Lake Taupo, where you can often see steam venting from.

Ngauruhoe and Tongariro are technically the same volcano, but with separate distinctive vents, however they’ve always been classed as separate volcanoes.  The Central Plateau volcanoes are part of a much larger volcanic field, that in pretty much a straight line, include Mt Taranaki, Mt Tarawera and White Island.  All different and fascinating in their own rights.

One of my favourite places, the Desert Road. Mt Ruapehu under the cloud and the cone of Mt Ngurahoe

We stopped at the look out and took some photos.  It was such a shame that Ruapehu’s rugged top was shrouded in cloud, but the rest was stunning.  The desert landscape is spectacular.  The army use this whole area as a training ground, and many movies have been shot here including parts of Lord of the Rings.

The land is barren, covered in ash from various eruptions over the years and the weather in the area is extremely inhospitable, from the heavy snow in winter, to the harsh winds in summer.

As I mentioned earlier, Mum and Dad were a wee way behind us.  They called to let us know they had just missed a fatal accident.  In fact, they were only 4 cars behind it, when an impatient driver had overtaken a logging truck and collected two vehicles going the other way, who had then hit the truck and rolled it, logs everywhere.  One of the innocent drivers lost their life.  All because of impatience.  Why, Why, Why do people not realise that their vehicles are weapons?

Anway, don’t start me on that.  I have lots of idea’s on punishments for being an idiot.  And many more idea’s if those idiotic actions harm someone else.

I digress….  So, Mum and Dad had to wait about half an hour before the emergency services all arrived, and were then detoured around the crash site before heading north again.

We arrived into Taupo at about 6.30pm and checked into the Lake Taupo Holiday Resort.  What a fantastic place for kids!  I’ll tell you more about the resort tomorrow.  Once settled, we jumped online (free wifi at the resort too!) and ordered Dominoes pizza’s.  They arrived within about 20 minutes and were devoured in the time it took to order them.  Luckily there were a few pieces left for Mum and Dad when they arrived.

11 weary travellers were tucked up in their beds, in dreamland by 9.30pm……  Looking forward to exploring tomorrow!






Happy New Year! Some thoughts….

Today is the last day of 2017…

It’s a time to reflect on the past and plan for the future.  As we close on the year that I turned 40 (am I now officially middle-aged or has that time frame changed as our life expectancies grow?) I thought I’d share a few morsels of wisdom that 40 years of experience on Planet Earth have given me.  Take note young ones.

  1. This is YOUR life.  Take control of it.  It is not your role to do whatever any other person wants you to do, in order to make THEM happy.
  2. Start running towards the things that scare you.  If you get too comfortable, you’ll end up uphappy wondering if there is more out there.
  3. Leave the past behind.  Nothing can change it and the more you look behind you, the more you’ll fail to see the wonderful things ahead of you.
  4. Walk away from things that don’t make you happy.  The obligations you think you have to attend to.  The people you’re afraid to let down.  Leave behind the guilt you feel for choosing what you want even though it doesn’t align with other peoples wishes.
  5. Leave the job you don’t like and spend your life complaining to others about.  Stop investing time and energy in something you’ve outgrown.  That’s why it is not working.  Understand it’s nothing to do with you or your work but that chapter is over.  Find a new challenge, even though it’s scary and attack it with full heart.
  6. There are always people around you who have more than you.  There are also always people around you who have less than you, so be grateful for what you have.  Stop comparing yourself to others.  You are on different paths, and you will lose track of the path you are walking when you focus too much on someone else’s path.  Then you’ll become jealous.
  7. Leave behind negative and toxic relationships and understand how people like that influence your happiness and well being.  Leave physically if you have to.
  8. You become what you think about.
  9. No one is responsible for your happiness.  Happiness is not something readymade.  It comes from your own actions.
  10. Think big and don’t listen to people who tell you it can’t be done.  Life’s too short to think small.

Jase and I are looking forward to 2018.  It’s going to be a busy year full of challenges, physical work projects and travel.  Our hope for 2018 is that our families and friends stay healthy, stay happy, stay surrounded by love and stay safe.

Remember you don’t need a new year to make a change, you can make one anytime.  Make up your mind, and go for it.

See you later 2017.  You’ve been mostly swell, and we’re looking forward to seeing what 2018 will bring.

(Photo taken by my Uncle Kevin)

Super Moon 04 Dec 17


Welcome to our new Blog

Welcome to our new Blog

Hi Everyone and welcome to our new Blog, which you can access or save to your favourites by using the website

This is quite a big thing for me.  For the last four years, I’ve used a beautiful blogging site called travelpod.  It basically did everything for me, which was great!  They’ve closed their doors now and I’m on my own which is scary for this technology dinosaur!

Anyway, we are now in the year 2017 and we have quite a few adventures planned for the year, so follow us on the daily journey of the adventure we call Life (and please be patient while I learn this new system!)  🙂

Kylie & Jase



First blog post

First blog post

Hi Everyone and welcome to our new Blog, which you can access or save to your favourites by using the website

This is quite a big thing for me.  For the last four years, I’ve used a beautiful blogging site called travelpod.  It basically did everything for me, which was great!  They’ve closed their doors now and I’m on my own which is scary for this technology dinosaur!

Anyway, we are now in the year 2017 and we have quite a few adventures planned for the year, so follow us on the daily journey of the adventure we call Life (and please be patient while I learn this new system!)  🙂

Kylie & Jase