TAUPO
After leaving Rotorua, Frank, Vicki, Genelle & I spent a day in Taupo before heading back to Auckland.
Genelle & I had experienced the Shotover Jet Boat a few days earlier while in Queenstown on the South Island. We loved it so much that we convinced Frank & Vicki to try the Rapids Jet with us in Taupo. All 4 of us are in the second row of this boat. Genelle & I are on the left side. This ride was very different from the Shotover jet. The Shotover goes faster, goes through tighter canyons and can spin a full 360 degrees under power because it's a twin engine boat. The Rapids Jet boat spins 180 degrees, then floats through the rest of the turn before getting under power again. However, that's not to say the Rapids Jet is bad. It ran through some seriously big rapids and caught air more than once which was a rush. We also got right up to the base of the Aratitia damn on the Waikato River.

We had a great time riding the quadrunners through the jungle undergrowth. Vicki had never ridden a quad before and was a bit nervous. But Malcolm of Taupo Quads was a great teacher and Vicki had a blast. We all did! Genelle & I are on the right in the second photo below. We rode for three hours. Sometimes the jungle was fairly open and sometimes it was so thick that we were riding in a dark tunnel of foliage. At the top of one hill, I took a photo of the thick growth and of Genelle emerging from a "tunnel".

On the way out of Taupo, we stopped at an overlook of the Huka Falls. They aren't so much of a falls as a large section of rapids. These two pictures don't do justice to the shear volume of water being funneled through the rock. It's an extremely dangerous fall because there is a large (2 to 3 meter) standing wave near the bottom and a terrible undertow leading into a deep hole at the bottom. Few who have gone over it in kayak or raft have survived.

Our last stop outside of Taupo was at the Wairakei Geothermal Power Station. This entire region is so active that there are a number of power stations in the area. Since steam directly from the earth turns the power turbines, no fuel is needed making these stations very efficient and environmentally friendly. Some intersting notes: The steam travels at 200Kph (125mph) in the pipes. It is so hot that large expansion loops (seen below) are installed in the pipeline every 300 meters (985 feet). Some of the pipes are 5 km (3 miles) long and over that distance can expand as much as 15 meters (49 feet).
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