Having a soak in the Otumuheke Hot Stream, in Spa Park near downtown Taupo, was definitely on our list of things to do, particularly since we would miss the crowds, as it is the middle of winter here right now.
But first of course, we needed a hike. The 6km out-and-back hike from Spa Park to Huka Falls seemed like a good way to expend some energy and make a geothermal soak after all the more enjoyable. We parked in the Spa Park parking area, walked the half a kilometer path to Otumuheke and continued on down the river. The track is smooth and easy, offering regular views of the river below.
In an hour we arrived at Huka Falls, where we were yesterday when we started a hike there heading for the Aratiatia Rapids. Today the falls were our turnaround point, but before we did that I felt a couple of photos from the bridge were needed. Below left, looking upstream; below right, looking downstream to the falls. At this point the Waikato River narrows to a channel just 15 meters wide, increasing the velocity of the water, and increasing the noise!
Time to head back to Spa Park and a geothermal bath. But New Zealand forests never cease to intrigue us. The pattern in the bark on this enormous pine tree made for a compelling image.
Nearby was another pine, a different species, which branched into five enormous trunks. I’ve never seen a tree anything like it. Yes, that is a single tree.
Soon we were back at Otumuheke Hot Stream and availed ourselves of the new facilities (changing rooms and toilets) that were completed in Sep 2018. Looking at photos on the web taken before the changes it is clear that the improvements were significant and sorely needed to protect the area. Here it is before (photo courtesy of stuff.co.nz).
The warmest water is in the upper levels at the bridge, and to my surprise it wasn’t too hot for me to enjoy (I am not a hot tub kind of guy). Rosemary could have taken it much hotter but she certainly enjoyed it; she was in the water for over half an hour. And we even had sunshine!
And by the way…there is no charge. I love New Zealand!