Ticking destinations off an itinerary and crossing experiences off bucket lists are very common, but allowing yourself to go into a fresh setting, with an open mind, can allow for an array of possibilities. The result could potentially bring you towards a hidden scenic treasure you never imagined existed.
That's exactly what happened when I recently stumbled upon Lake Taupo.
Whilst planning a two-week road trip around the North Island of New Zealand, finding locations and attractions where my fellow travellers and I could recover from long drives was a necessity. When initially putting Taupo on our New Zealand Itinerary, I didn’t think much of it. The town was situated between Wellington and Auckland, and not too far from the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves.
When the trip eventually came around we started up in Auckland, drove down through Rotorua, made our way into Wellington, and started heading up towards Taupo. None of us were expecting too much from Taupo. Looking back on our voyage, I now realise how naïve we were.
The drive towards Taupo was enough to sway our initial opinions of the region. As we were driving up Desert Road, approximately one hour outside Taupo, we glanced to our right, and beheld three distinct, enormous mountains. We had reached Tongariro National Park. We later learnt that this national park is mainly comprised of three active volcanoes; Tongariro, Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe. Seeing Mt Ngauruhoe was especially significant, as Lord of the Rings fans will know that this is in fact, Mt Doom, from the famous movie trilogy. Driving past the landscape was visually overwhelming.
The landscape offered an impressive view for travellers passing by, with a perfect “Middle Earth” vibe. Fog clouded each dark mountain from the summit, whilst brown grass surrounded. As we passed through, snow from the top would peak its way through.
Whilst driving along the final stretch, we were treated to a very clear view of the serene, crystal blue lake, stretching out as far as we could see. The lake was bordered with a diverse and colourful array of lush plant life. As we reached the lively heart of Taupo on a breezy Monday afternoon, we indulged ourselves in a pleasant meal from one of the countless restaurants that lined the boundary of the lake. It was from here that we relished in a vibrant sunset over Lake Taupo, with Tongariro National Park’s beautiful snowy mountains peaking over the landscape.
Having explored the Maori rock carvings, we learnt that Lake Taupo is the largest lake in Australasia, and the lake was actually a crater that was formed from one of the largest volcanic eruptions in the past 5000 years. All of these details and facts about the lake truly put our entire experience in perspective.
Lake Taupo was a charming, energetic delight that I would travel back to in a heartbeat. It’s not often that an insignificant day on one’s itinerary can lead to the most unforgettable experience of a trip.
Have you recently fallen in love with an unexpected destination? Share your stories with us here and you could see your work published on six-two…