10 Feb 2017
Crisp and cool – Lake Taupo to Tongariro National Park
Our plans had been to get up early for the sunrise at Desert Road, but, exhausted from the huge day before, we took it easy and got up slowly and had a big breakfast. We left the house and drove along the edge of Lake Taupo to the south, and took some photos at a small peninsula about 10 kms south of 5 Mile Bay. The day was picturesque and we were able to get some beautiful shots along the lake, and have a picnic lunch from the back of the van.
We then drove the vans a little further down the road to Bulli’s Point - a popular summer spot for the locals to jump off the rocks into the lake. Bulli’s Point was an appropriate name for the spot - I was bullied to jump off into the icy water! Morgan said he’d pay me $25 if I took the plunge. Lake Taupo is a very deep lake, having been formed by a volcanic explosion, and even in summer it is cold to swim in. The water was definitely cold and the breath was knocked out of my lungs. Luckily, it was a beautiful sunny day, so I warmed up quickly enough, and we spent some time taking in the sun and the views of blue from all around.
Next, we headed to Tongariro National Park. We drove down a gravel road for some kilometres, right off the beaten track. We eventually came to the end of the road, where the hike for Mt Tongariro begins. The day was clear but the wind was bitter, and I quickly realised that I had under-packed on woollen essentials, like gloves and a beanie. I cooked up some soup for the boys, and when that was wolfed down, they set off to take some more photos near the beginning of the track. I cleaned up, and did some reading. When they returned, we headed further down the road towards Whakapapa. It must have been nearing the end of the ski day as we wound up and round Whakapapa, because there was a steady stream of cars heading down the mountain. I felt jealous of the lucky souls who had been skiing and boarding all day; it looked like a beautiful day with great snow and blue skies. We had missed hitting the slopes, but we hadn't missed the views that can be seen from the peak. With the functionality of the vans, we were able to nap quickly (a relief after long hours of driving and the morning’s activities!). When we woke, the conditions were perfect for taking ‘golden hour’ photographs. Akhil shot photos, and Morg filmed as the sun started to sink softly to the west. We made the most of the beautiful scenery, with Mt. Ngarahoe to one side, and Whakapapa behind us, before it became too dark. We then returned to the Tongariro Crossing point again, for some astro-photography. Akhil set up his camera for a long-exposure time lapse, and as we waited, we heated soup and fried bread in a pan for dinner. Hungrily, we ate it all up to the last lick, then we retreated into the vans to seek warmth and wait for the camera to finish taking the shots. Finally, Akhil came to our van and signalled that it was done, and we collapsed into bed after another long but productive day.