Lake Taupo is New Zealand’s largest lake – this thing is huge. It’s the caldera of a massive volcanic eruption in 186 AD. The series of nine eruptions was so extensive that people as far away as China and Rome saw red skies. This was recorded in various primary sources from the period. It’s believed the entire North Island of New Zealand was coated with thick ash, which must have had a profound effect on the surrounding flora and fauna. And of course, the resulting crater filled in with water, and Lake Taupo was born.
From the lake, you can see Tongoriro National Park with its spectacular peaks, one of which was Mt. Doom in Lord of the Rings.
We had one night in Taupo Town and stayed right next to the lake. The views from our place were pretty great, but the walk back from town was much longer than any of us anticipated, as we learned late that night.
Most of the Contiki group, including yours truly, took a private lake cruise. The food and dancing were both great, and we got to see some of the features in the cliffs along the lakeside. In the 1970s, some local artisans carved Maori symbols into some of the cliff faces to help protect the area from volcanic activity. The sunset on the lake was amazing as well. After the cruise, we all headed out to see some of the local nightlife, which was about like nightlife among young people everywhere else in the world.
Title quote: Lao Tzu