We attempted to go to another thermo park that’d been privatized. Without any Maoris yelling at us and slapping their chests it didn’t seem worth it. Instead we found a nice lake to walk around and enjoy some of the local farmland. The lake walk was followed by a beautiful hike up Rainbow Mountain. By the name alone we had to hike this one for McKayla’s sake. The first lookout was to a bright turquoise pool that looked even more incredible with the back drop of blood red mountains. I’m not sure what mineral made these cliff walls that deep red color, but I’d never seen anything quite like it. Though the rock faces were nearly sheer there was still green vegetation poking out of the red. There were even a few small patches of yellow and orange mixed in near some of the more active parts of the mountain that breathed a consistent small puff of geothermal steam. The summit was crowned with a radio tower, but still offered a great 360* view. Rainbow mountain certainly earned its name and offered a lot of the same geothermal features that the park this morning had offered, just without the price tag.
The biggest lake in New Zealand is Taupo Lake. We stopped for gas on the north end of the lake then quickly drove around it, only stopping to get a good view of it from a hilltop on the south shore. We’d gotten a brief lake fix in Rotorua now it was time to enjoy some mountains and get a look at and hopefully summit Mount Doom! Yup, Tongariro National Park is home to the famous Mount Doom of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ movies. The actual name of the mountain is Ngauruhoe and it is a very active volcano, usually erupting every 9 years but it has been on a 41 year rest. So who knows, maybe we’ll get to see an eruption.
It seems you never have to go far to find a campground in New Zealand and thankfully there was one just across the street from the information center in Tongariro Natioanl Park. We’d be popping in there first thing in the morning. As for now, we picked a site and hoped the constant drizzle would let up. It didn’t but we did have access to the campground kitchen where we could cook and write for a while.