Journals from New Zealand (University of Waikato)
2010-08-09 A Day in Taupo!
Kia ora koutou katoa! (Hello to you all!)
So, weve been here in New Zealand for exactly a month now, and the time is going by so fast! Our weeks are filled with classes and homework, and weve been traveling a lot on the weekends.
The International Office here at the uni sponsors a bunch of different trips for us to go on and last week Saturday, we went on one of their trips to a city called Taupo. Taupo isnt a very touristy town, but it is home to New Zealands Highest Bungy Jump over water!
Our first stop was the Aratiatia Rapids. We got there at about 9:55 AM, which gave us just enough time to catch one of the daily floodings of the Waikato River. There is a large reservoir of water behind two gates and each day, the gates are opened for 15 minutes to let water flood into the river creating powerful rapids. Our tour guide told us that the water travels at 200 liters per second, which is extremely fast! It was so amazing to watch the river fill up within minutes!
Next, we went further down the Waikato River to Huka Falls. The main attraction here was a jetboat that rode around the falls. Sixteen people could fit in one jetboat and the driver would race up and down the river performing all types of tricks and spins. The ride lasted about 15 minutes and so we got to watch a few rounds of people enjoy the experience. It looked like a lot of fun! A fun fact we learned is that the jetboat was actually created here in New Zealand in 1954!
The weather in Taupo wasnt cooperating with us that day. It was really cold and foggy, which made it extremely difficult to see things off in the distance. We headed to the Lake Taupo lookout, but werent able to see much of anything because the fog was so thick. So, our tour guide took us down to the lake to where the geothermal hot pools were. Lake Taupo is the largest lake in New Zealand, and it actually happens to be the crater of a large volcano. Recently, scientists have discovered that the volcano is still active creating hot pools around the edges of the crater. The pools were pretty shallow and we all sat around and put our feet in the water. It felt like a jacuzzi!
At about lunch time, we stopped in the main part of town for lunch and some shopping. We were in the mood for some familiar food, so we ate at McDonalds! The McDonalds chain is a lot classier here in New Zealand. The McDonalds in Taupo had a large airplane with tables and chairs that customers could dine in. Another McDonalds had large paintings on the walls and three huge flat screen tvs! It was crazy!
Our next and final stop was the Taupo Bungy Jump. The jump was 47 meters above a large section of the Waikato River. There were quite a few people there to do the jump that day and so we waited for a while because one of our friends wanted to do it! It was so entertaining watching peoples different reactions before jumping. Some people prayed, others had to be pushed, and a brave few rarely hesitated and dove right down. Depending upon the weight of the person and the way they jumped, some people went head first INTO the river! Every person who jumped said it was the most thrilling experience theyve ever had. Maybe some day, Ill build up the courage to do it!