Huka Falls

Lake Taupo is huge. It is, in fact, the second biggest freshwater lake in Oceania. It was created by the world's largest known supervolcanic eruption 26,500 years ago - an erruption so gigantic that it darkened the skies in Europe and China.

The area is a popular tourist destination so there are lots of shops and restaurants and the adventurous tourist can partake in all sorts of crazy activities. Sailing is a popular pastime as is fishing because the lake has been stocked with brown and rainbow trout.

The town of Taupo sits on the northeast shore of a sort of bay extending off the main lake, and Huka Falls, reputed to be New Zealand's most visited natural attraction, is just outside the town.

Here's a picture taken one morning during our stay looking out over the lake at our next destination - Mount Ngauruhoe in Tongariro National Park.

At Huka Falls, the Waikato River, which is normally about 328 feet wide, is suddenly forced to flow through a narrow gorge which is only about 50 feet wide. We took a short walk upstream to look at the river just before it enters the gorge. The current was already fairly strong.

The turbulent, roiling water thundering through the narrow gorge is a hypnotizing sight.

The falls themselves are only about 30 feet high, but the volume of water that passes over them is enough to fill an olympic size swimming pool in 11 seconds.

As I said, all sorts of crazy activities are available. These two tour boats take people as close to the falls as they dare to go. The first boat approached slowly and lingered in the foam for several moments so the passengers could take pictures. The second paused for dramatic effect before making a quick dash in and out.