Day 2 began and ended with waterfalls. First up after we checked out of our hostel was Tawhai Falls, a ten-minute walk from the main highway that was so inconspicuous we drove past it at first.
On the way, though, I had to stop to take some shots of Mt. Tongariro. The lighting’s not the best on the first one, but the sign was too Kiwi not to photograph.
Halfway to the Falls, we were treated with another gorgeous shot of the mountain.
Before my last trip to New Zealand, I received via a white elephant party a little porcelain horse thing painted creepily without pupils. My friend who painted him, Amelia, encouraged me to stick him in my travel photos. Hence, Oliver in front of the Falls:
Next up was the Whakapapa Village. Whakapapa was one of the first Maori words I learned in New Zealand, thanks to an unfortunate but hilarious experience my friend Jared experienced. Suffice it to say in Maori the “wh” is pronounced “f”. The word itself innocently means genealogy, but that doesn’t stop the juvenile jokes from occurring.
We went to Silica Rapids, but mostly I’m including this sign for some of the great names, including Whakapapa and all its glorious permutations.
Next up was the Whakapapa Ski Fields. As many of you know, I don’t ski, but we took the chairlift and enjoyed a wander in the snow anyway. There was still an impressive number of people enjoying the slopes despite it being (technically) spring.
Next, we drove to Taupo, where we managed to check out Huka Falls before sunset. Apparently when the reservoir releases water (twice daily, I believe), it’s quite a sight, but we still got some good views, both at the Falls and on the hike to them.
Not the greatest shot, but this was the best view of the falls I could get from the angle where I stood.
After dinner, Stefan and I went back to some thermal pools we passed on the way to Huka Falls. There was already a group of tourists there, mostly German and one South African. They graciously let join them and it was a great evening: relaxing thermal pools at just the right temperature, a waterfall that doubled as a masseuse, a lovely view of the moon (though the Super Moon came after we left), and fun conversation. The German girl I talked to for most of the night, Anna, had been in New Zealand for a year as an au pair for two families. I’d considered doing that as a way to come back to the country, so it was interesting hearing about her experiences.