From Taupo, we headed south to River Valley Lodge, with a stop through Tongariro National Park. A two hour loop through the park takes you to picturesque Taranaki Falls, where we enjoyed a quick picnic lunch.
Tongariro National Park includes a spectacular snow-capped Mt. Ngauruhoe and has a huge variety of walks and camping options.
For you LOTR fans, it was one of Peter Jackson's inspirations for Mt. Doom. We had an hour trek to the falls, picnicked, and then looped back to complete yet another beautiful walk around NZ.
The landscape was a distinct contrast from previous stops, making it uniquely beautiful.
Overcast skies held for us during the walk, but rain inevitably followed while driving from Tongariro Park to River Valley Lodge.
A major walk in New Zealand is the Tongariro Crossing. If you're there in good weather, I've been told it's one of the the hardest days, yet most rewarding. A shuttle will drop you off and pick you up, but in colder/harsher conditions, you need a guide.
Just south of there in the middle of nowhere along Rangitikei River, within a steep green valley, it's easy to see how River Valley Lodge landed on its name. If you're looking for beautiful rolling hills along rushing water, with a friendly atmosphere, this stop is not to be missed.
For horseback riding or rafting, apparently this is your place. Unfortunately, all trips were cancelled due to constant rainfall. Seeing as I didn’t plan on either activity, I was content to settle into the warm lodge with some homemade mac and cheese and warm mulled cider.
Next up is Wellington!
Things to do south of Taupo:
Horseback riding in this stunningly beautiful area, weather permitting.
Whitewater Rafting through 4-5 grade rapids, weather permitting.
Relaxing and playing games in the cozy lodge.
Tongariro National Park for a nice walk around Mt. Ngauruhoe
Tongariro Crossing is about 2 hours away.