From Rotorua’s Wai-O-Tapu, we drove about an hour to Huka Falls. Our goal today was to drive as far south as possible to shorten our trip to Wellington the next day.
New Zealand’s countryside is just beautiful. I didn’t think to take pictures of the landscape the first few days in Waitomo and Rotorua. I just stared out the window admiring the whole time. The morning we were driving from Waitomo to Matamata was breath taking. We left early in the morning and rays of sunlight were peaking through the clouds onto endless rolling green hills. It really felt like The Shire.
Every single day – no matter how long or short our drive was, no matter which island we were on – we saw sheep. Flocks and flocks of cute, fluffy, sheep that would run away every time we pulled over to take pictures of them. We also saw a lot of cows, some horses, and some deer. But so. many. sheep. I read that the sheep outnumber people 7:1.
HUKA HONEY HIVE
Before reaching Huka Falls, we stopped by Huka Honey Hive. I read a lot of positive reviews about their honey ice cream and this place was great! I think we ended up browsing for close to an hour.
Notice how the room is shaped like a honeycomb?
They have a great variety of honey products. They have different flavors of of honey like ginger & fig, green ginger, and beanut butter (hehe). They also have honey liqueur, honey bath & beauty products, and native Manuka Honey everything. You’re allowed to sample all the honey and alcohol too! Probably why we stayed for so long…
Manuka honey is a big thing in New Zealand. It’s produced from the manuka tree, which is native to New Zealand and Australia. It hasn’t been proven but many claim it has antibacterial properties so it’s often sold as alternative medicine. KT and I both used it for minor injuries. Although it felt a little gross and sticky, our wounds DID seem to heal faster than if we left it alone. Who knows? I’m not one to dismiss alternative medicine.
I ended up buying a jar of green tea honey, ginger & fig honey, Manuka honey and Rotorua mud soap, honey liqueur with gold flecks, and a coffee liqueur. So many unique souvenirs and gifts to buy! Like most Kiwis we met, the employees were really friendly, knowledgeable, and willing to help.
After all the shopping, we HAD to get what we came for: honey ice cream. We got both the fig honey and the honey & almond gold. SO. GOOD. We went outside to their patio area to enjoy our ice cream.
DEFINITELY make a stop at Huka Honey Hive if you’re in the area.
A 5 minute drive from Huka Honey Hive is Huka Falls. It is a 11 meter high waterfall on the Waikato River. Huka means foam in Maori and you can probably see why from my pictures. There are plenty of activities, walking tracks, and viewing platforms along the river.
The Waikato River, normally up to 100 metres wide, abruptly narrows to just 15 metres as it crosses a hard volcanic ledge north of Lake Taupo. This causes a huge volume of water to collide and funnel through the rocky gorge, forming the spectacularly powerful falls and rapids.
The flow rate of the water is close to 220,000 liters PER SECOND! Definitely wouldn’t want to get caught in these currents.
We didn’t linger long at Huka Falls. We snapped a few photos and headed on down to Lake Taupo for a lakeside lunch break.
Lake Taupo is the largest lake in New Zealand. It’s the product of a volcanic eruption that occurred over 25,000 years ago. Basically the lake is sitting in the crater of a once active volcano. Like every body of water we saw in New Zealand, the water was ridiculously blue and clean. With the mountains in the backdrop, it’s not a bad lunch spot at all.
There are lots of activities around Lake Taupo and the city of Taupo. We wanted to drive a little further today so we didn’t stay at Lake Taupo for long.
About to get in the RV for a 4.5 hour drive to our campsite in Manawatu! (Turned out to be one of our favorite camp sites!)
I’m not sure what type of plant these are but there were tufts of them growing all along the roads and in fields. I really liked their dusty purple color contrasted with the tall yellow grass.
Nothing beats the sight of vast fields of sheep though.
Huka Honey Hive
Address: 65 Karetoto Rd Taupo, New Zealand
GPS Coordinates: -38.638017, 176.090276
Contact: +64 7 374 8553; firstname.lastname@example.org
Hours: 9am – 5pm
Cost: plenty of free samples! Plus reasonably priced souvenirs/goodies
GPS Coordinates: -38.649465, 176.089019
Hours: all da time
Duration: 15 mins to snap some photos. More if you want to wander more
GPS Coordinates: -38.688459, 176.067069
(These are the coordinates of the spot we stopped to have lunch. There’s a free parking lot and picnic tables. I believe there’s more free parking along the edge of the lake as you drive south along with lakeside walkways.)
Duration: however long you want to make it. We only ate lunch here but you can walk or bike all along the shore. There are also some hiking trails nearby.