Going to New Zealand? This rough and brief travel guide will show you What to Do, Where to Go, Where to Eat and What to See traveling between Wellington and Lake Taupo in New Zealand. Continuing on from Wellington on our way to Lake Taupo we were traveling along the N1 on the North Island of New Zealand visiting small towns such as Foxton, Bulls, Taihape on the way to Lake Taupo where we had already booked accommodation.
The first town we reached was Foxton. This is off the main road, but the guide book said it was a lovely town so we decided to take a look. Foxton is like a step back in time, not in a bad way or behind the times, rather Foxton has manged to keep the old town look and feel in a nice way.
The main feature is the Windmill which was brought over from Holland, bit by bit and build by people who had never built a windmill before – by reviewing the plans for the structure. There are horse drawn tram rides, an electric trolleybus, old style streets – I was told there are plans to make Foxton a hub of activity with kayaking, walks and other things to do. We enjoyed about 2 hours here before getting back on the road, taking a nice coffee and snack in the cafe near the Windmill.
From here we traveled back on the N1 again and on passing through a town called Bulls we just had to stop and take some photos. The shops are all BULL Oriented, e.g. the local realtor / estate agent has “live-a-bull” as his tag line, the town hall centre has “soci-a-bull”, and so on to Taihape where we had decided to take lunch.
Taihape is another very nice town, almost like small town America, worth taking an hour or so to enjoy, plenty of nice cafes to take a snack in.
On the last leg to Lake Taupo, back onto the N1 we go via the desert road, part of which is a military area, with an amazing landscape.
As soon as you see Lake Taupo for the first time you will have a few opportunities to stop into the left and enjoy many of the viewing areas, with incredible vistas of the lake. I’m sure there have been an accident or two with drivers looking at the nice view and not the road. Its still another good hours drive to Lake Taupo – so far its been about 6 hours since leaving Wellington.
After about 45 minutes we enter into Taupo and arrive at the Millennium Hotel which sits on the waterfront with amazing views of the lake. The Millennium Hotel also has a really nice outdoor heated pool, no problems using it in winter as it is quite warm. The restaurant there is very nice and we enjoyed a buffet there on arrival – only $39NZ per person which was very reasonable.
We later found out that the desert road was blocked by snow and we made it to Lake Taupo with 4 or 5 hours to spare before the snow trapped people on the desert road.
Lake Taupo – To Be Continued … ( Lake Trip to Maori Carvings & Craters of the Moon… )
Unusual Cloud formation in New Zealand
This picture of an amazing Cloud Formation which I spotted when driving along the desert road in New Zealand (the N1 road towards Lake Taupo). It’s like something from the start of War of the Worlds or the new alien feature skyline. It was a formation and type of cloud I had not seen before and I can tell you it freaked me out a small bit when I first saw this.
Below is a close up of the clouds shows the weird formation which I had never seen anything like before.
What are these clouds formations?
Apparently, these are called Mammatus cloud formations. Mammatus clouds are often associated with severe thunderstorms as they can extend from the base of a cumulonimbus. Mammatus are often indicative of strong storm activity. With my interest in aviation, I know that pilots always try to avoid these types of clouds due to induction turbulence.
These Mammatus cloud formations end up usually having a bubbly or lobe based shaped. They often form a cluster of lobes giving the above formation. These Mammatus cloud lobes are usually composed of ice and liquid water. It is known that if you see these, it is normally the sign of a coming storm or other extreme weather systems.
The sign of these clouds preceding a storm was very much correct. We passed the point where this photo was taken at 5 pm, by midnight this road was officially closed as it was blocked by a huge snow drift. Amazing!
Where to Stay, What to Do, Where to Go, Where to Eat in Wellington, New Zealand
Going to Wellington, New Zealand? This rough and brief Wellington travel guide will show you What to Do, Where to Go, Where to Eat and What to See in Wellington, New Zealand. Wellington is a lovely little city, much nicer than the business-oriented Auckland – Wellington is one of the nicest places we visited in New Zealand and is a place where the pace of life is as nice as the people you meet there !
On arriving in Wellington it was a real change of pace from the metropolis of Hong Kong and the city buzz of Sydney. One of the first things you notice is the quaint/small town feel you get from the moment you leave the airport. Some very nice sculptures along the way also. We were staying at the Copthorne Hotel in Oriental Bay – a hotel which was so nice we stayed at the Copthorne / Millennium Group Hotels during our whole stay in New Zealand.
Wellington is a great place for relaxing – the pace is not that of a capital city which of course it is. Our first stop was the botanical gardens, as it is on a hill which overlooks the city – get the cable car to the summit (not the type of cable car which you might think – more of a vernacular).
The view is stunning and there are plenty of walks which should keep you going for 2-3 hours. The restaurant in the Botanical Gardens is really good and service very fine meals, hot drinks and desserts. not to be missed also is the observatory which has a 3D projection tour of the night sky which is a very relaxing way to spend a half hour.
Food in Wellington is not a problem. Cuba Street is one of the places where you can find good food at any time. One of the places we tried was Simply Paris, 181 Cuba Street. Welcomed by a French waiter, the food was excellent and the ambience was very authentic – would certainly return here if in Wellington again.
If you are looking for a good view of Wellington, you should try going up to Mount Victoria which has an observation point giving a 360-degree vista on the area. Our hotel said we could walk it but if you do walk it, bring oxygen, as it is a fairly strenuous hike!
If you want to do something more cultural, the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa located on the seafront is worth going to. About 4 floors of artefacts, pictures, videos and interactive exhibits (many of them stuffed which I didn’t like too much) – it is a great way to get to know more about New Zealand and the Maori people who inhabited New Zealand before the white people colonised the islands. There is a restaurant here which is quite nice – the main courses were decent and very tasty but the seafood chowder which we got was not really chowder but some sort of seafood broth – I like my chowder but it was not great. They do however do a good coffee/cappuccino!
Look out in Wellington for the variety of sculptures – many of which are moving in the wind. The best of them all is the Smarties which is located along one of the main streets ( which you can see on Google Street View by clicking here)
We really enjoyed Wellington and would certainly return. A relaxed city with lots to do, good food and nice people – you don’t find that every day.
From here we hired a car, and progressed up N1 route North, visiting Foxton, Bulls, Taihape, en route to our final destination Lake Taupo.