The drive from Rotorua to Wellington took us up across the central plains and through the village of Taupo. Lake Taupo is a giant lake just north of several volcanoes that are frequently active! They serve as great recreational areas with parks and camping around the base and three separate ski fields on the slopes. Lake Taupo represents the largest lake in NZ, 606 sq km, [375 sq miles!]
The whole area, the lake and the three volcanic mountains were formed at around 186 AD. At about this time, a cataclysmic explosion occurred and the volcano literally blew it's top. This is felt to be the greatest volcanic explosion the world has ever experienced! The explosion was herd as far away as China. Pumice is found as far away as Napier. Accounts of darkened skies in the daytime and blood-red sunsets recorded in China and Rome at the time are felt to be secondary to the effects of the explosion. The residual depression resulted in the formation of Lake Taupo!
Mt Ruapehu remains active and has had a series of explosions since 1995! Just a few years ago, there was a major explosion and villagers sat in the streets and drank wine watching the display. It had a terrible effect on the Ski Fields and they were closed for the rest of the year!
This is a beautiful area. The high plain desert reminded me a lot of Idaho with the flat grasslands. Traveling across this in the winter was neat. We saw our first snow along the road and the volcanoes were completely snow covered. Despite this being "Route 1" and the main north-south highway, it is frequently closed in winter because of icy or snowy conditions!
Mt Ngauruhoe is the most attractive of the volcanoes. It has the classic inverted cone shape most of us associate with volcanoes!
We managed to avoid any fresh lava and didn't feel any tremors!
On to Wellington!