Lake Taupo weekend: 1~Mountains & army museums
This year we had an iconic summer like the kind I remember well from my childhood. Brilliantly fine stretches of weather prevailed, putting the nation in a good mood and giving visiting guests the impression that this was nothing unusual. (If anything we had too much of a good thing and much of the country was later declared in drought.)
We took Mike’s children away for a few days at the end of the school holidays. Several options were investigated with the final decision being the Lake Taupo region, taking up the suggestion of a friend’s holiday cottage.
If you’re not especially familiar with NZ, Lake Taupo is in the middle of the North Island. The town of Taupo on the northern shore is about 4.5 hours drive north of Wellington. We would be staying just south of Taupo.
On departure day we weren’t in a screaming hurry and besides, a long drive with small people needs to be broken up for the sanity of all concerned. A stop at Waiouru was planned.
Waiouru (Why-ooo-roo) is a small community three hours north of Welly on the volcanic plateau. It is most well known for its army camp, the largest in NZ and Waiouru’s raison d’etre. It became a logical place to put a National Army Museum.
The Waiouru Army Museum is an excellent facility and I was keen for the boys to experience it and gain a teensy bit more knowledge about NZ’s military history.
Mike chaperoned J & F who had a great time following the kids’ treasure hunt sheet and playing dress up.
I moseyed around the exhibits, a selective bit of reading here and there, before browsing the gift shop which has an excellent range of military history books. We last came through here prior to our 2010 European trip to research our visit to the Western Front battlefields.
As you’d expect, there’s also a bunch of outdoor exhibits. Quite eye catching as you barrel along State Highway One.
If you’re lucky, as you approach Waiouru from the south, you’ll see Mt Ruapehu. It was that sort of a day and from the museum we had stunning views of the most famous of the three main North Island mountains.
We continued north via the Desert Rd. The Rangipo Desert is a harsh but stunning tussock-covered landscape and yours truly was gagging for another stop to photograph the mountain. We pulled off at a favourite place for this, off the road with no power pylons obstructing the view.
Grown-ups satisfied after two successful stops and boys immersed back into Kindles, we began the final leg. A lake was waiting!