Lower North Island road trip: Taupo to Wellington (Day 5)

Julie Scanlon from Kidspot continues her five-day family road trip from Wellington to Taupo.

It may have been a freezing cold winter’s night, but we were toasty warm at our lovely Taupo Hotel.

We woke up on the final day of our road trip to the news that our route home to Wellington – the notorious Desert Road – was currently closed due to snow and ice. But with bright, clear skies forecast, we crossed our fingers that it would open by the time we were due to head south. And we still had more to see and do in Taupo!

Taupo to Wellington road trip
Taupo to Wellington road trip. Image: Bigstock

Huka Prawn Park

We decided to head out to the Huka Prawn Park, just a few minutes drive north of Taupo at the Wairakei Tourist Park. The introductory tour is well worth doing before you explore the park. We learned about the breeding habits of prawns, hand fed some babies, and picked up tips for successful prawn fishing.

Before doing a spot of fishing ourselves, we took the loop track through a variety of challenges and hands-on activities designed to test strength, balance and speed. The Gauntlet requires perfect timing to avoid getting drenched by buckets of water. Lee took it on, and save for a split-second near miss, got through unscathed! We fed the rainbow trout, did a short bush walk, and watched Huka Falls Jet powering along the mighty Waikato River.

Taupo to Wellington road trip
Taupo to Wellington road trip. Image: Bigstock

Having obtained rods, bait and buckets, we found a sunny spot to toss in a line. There are so many prawns that they start grabbing the bait almost immediately. Getting them out of the water isn’t quite so straightforward, but even these four fishing novices managed to pull some small specimens and one good-sized prawn onto dry land.

Guests have the option to have their prawn catch cooked at the park, but we chose to put them on ice to take home. I’ve got a great prawn toast recipe waiting for them there!

Wellington (370 kilometres)

Departing the park, we began the five-hour journey back to Wellington. The road around Lake Taupo is winding, but spectacularly scenic, and there are lots of spots where you can pull off the road and soak up the beauty of the setting.

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winter escape ideas christmas in july
Lake Taupo. Image: Tourism New Zealand

Desert Road

By now the road was clear and we could make our way from Turangi at the southern end of Lake Taupo through to Waiouru. The mountains in Tongariro National Park were resplendent in pure white against a stunning blue sky background. We found a suitable spot to pull over and brave the biting cold for some fun in the snow. As much as I love snow play, I admit to retreating to the car once I couldn’t feel my hands anymore! The kids had a snowball fight (which involved pelting each other and then the car), and scraped together enough snow for a hastily made snowman.

Roadside landmarks

We got back in the car and defrosted as we drove through Taihape and on towards Mangaweka. Keep an eye out for the famous roadside DC-3 plane. You can go inside and read the history of this famous landmark. A photo with the huntaway farm dog statue in Hunterville is also a favourite with the kids whenever we pass this way.

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Taupo to Wellington road trip
Taupo to Wellington road trip. Image: Bigstock

Driving through Foxton and Levin, we were treated to a seemingly never-ending sunset. Only two of us saw it, as the kids were sound asleep after a hectic but amazing five days on the road.

We packed so much into this holiday, and even as a family of seasoned road trippers we were astounded by the diversity of the destinations and quality of the attractions we visited. Our sincere thanks go to Choice Hotels for giving us the opportunity to do this trip and to see more of our beautiful country.

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Where to stay

Choice Hotels has you well and truly covered in New Zealand with a superb range of accommodation options to suit every budget. Search online and book direct for a Lowest Price Guarantee.

Read more

Day 1: Wellington to Palmerston North

Day 2: Palmerston North to Napier

Day 3: Napier to Rotorua

Day 4: Rotorua to Taupo

Day 5: Taupo to Wellington

About the writer

This blog was written by Julie Scanlon from Kidspot. Julie and her family were sponsored by Choice Hotels Asia-Pac on their five day road trip of the lower North Island.

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