The end of day 2 saw us pull in to Taupo, a beautiful mountain lake town with views of "Mt. Doom", provided the clouds weren't in the way. The town is quite reminiscent of South Lake Tahoe. We found a place to stay and headed to the waterfront where we drank a couple of beers before dinner. Dinner was at Indian Affair where we quickly discovered the universal truth that service at Indian restaurants is universally horrible. The food, however, was good. Once we got back to the hostel, Steven decided that the wine at dinner wasn't enough so he convinced Shaun that they needed to walk the 25 minutes back into town for more beer. Amazing really, seeing as Steven had slept on the floor in the Sydney airport the night before.
On the third day we had decided to see Huka Falls, New Zealand most popular natural attraction according to someone. It was quite spectacular but not a must-see. From Huka Falls we walked about 30 minutes on the banks of the Waikato river to a thermal stream where hot tub temperature water flowed into 70 degree water, spectacular. Later we drove to the Taurangi where we planned to spend the night in preperation for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. We stopped at the Taurangi i-Site to inquire about shuttles and found a wonderful woman named Jenny who couldn't have been more helpful. She urged us to postpone the crossing until our return due to bad weather. She also directed us to the River Valley resort for whitewater rafting. So we left for the resort traveling doen highway 1. We turned off the main highway with about a quarter tank left in the "Sprinter" (a very ironic name for our vehicle) thinking the resort was about a 30 minute drive. By the time we got to the resort the needle was almost on E.
We ended up staying at the resort and proceeded to drink 14 jugs of beer and eat possibly the worst pizza known to man. It was a full moon so Shaun decided to take a ride on the pulley bridge ight before midnight. His momentum almost carried him to the other side of the river, fortunately he still had his balance and didn't fall off.
We woke up the next morning with slight headaches and headed to a breaky consisting of two eggs, a side of bacon, beans, sauteed mushrooms, hashbrowns and toast. Too much, especially before rafting. After breaky we gt some instructions from the guide and put on our gear, wetsuit, jacket, booties and a poly shirt. I could barely breath my suit was so tight. Apparently, they don't encounter many giant people at the River Valley Resort. Highlights from the trip were a 15 meter cliff jump, the narrows, our guide Gordy and two class 5 rapids. We were also fortunate to meet Harve, Jane and Daniel, our raftmates. After wrapping things up at River Valley, Harve, the gracious kiwi that he was offered to take us to his hometown of Feilding to have a drink. We ended up needing the help because we were unsure we would make it on the amount of gas we had left. We made it to Feilding where we spent 2 hours talking with Harve, Jane and Daniel. That is definitely a kiwi experience, the people here are so nice.