We woke up to clear skies so we checked out of the motel and went straight across the road to have a last look at the lake in all its splendour. In the distance we could even see the mountains peeking through a cloudy veil. We stood up on the lookout at the lakes edge and spied a trout swimming around in the crystal-clear water. We also watched a shag diving and swimming under water. We went down to the shore for a look too and saw some pumice which we just had to throw in the water to make sure it floated (it did).
Next, we had a quick look around town and then went to the lookout above town which due to lamp posts etc wasn't actually as good as the view in town. We then said farewell to Taupo and started our journey north.
First stop was Tokoroa which is a forestry town. It also has sculptures throughout the town called the Talking Poles (carved from wood of course). We went to the information centre but they'd run out of maps marking the locations of the poles (there are over 40 of them) so we just wandered around the CBD and found a few of them. It was pretty random but it was marked in our road atlas so we thought why not?! We bought pies at Ronnie's Bakery Cafe for lunch and set off again.
Just a few of Tokoroa's Talking Poles
We made it up to Hamilton (NZ's 4th largest city) and as it is known for its beautiful gardens visited the Hamilton Gardens. They were really nice and had all different sections like tropical and Italian themed gardens as well as a Maori inspired one which had a small crop of Kumara (sweet potato) which the Polynesians brought to NZ when they first came here. The Waikato River runs along one side of the Gardens and we had a look at it which was quite full since the recent rain. We wandered around the turtle pond and saw a turtle in it. We also came across a lot of pigeons and ducks.
We left a bit after 2pm and headed for Auckland, spotting Sky Tower in the distance when we approached. We checked into our hotel at the airport and then returned the hire car, walking back to the hotel where we will stay tonight and then fly home early in the morning.
New Zealand, once again, it's been an absolute blast!