Through the night we woke up to crazy winds and pelting rain storms, but by the time the sun came up, the sky had cleared and the lake was glassy as our campsite was hidden behind a point protecting us from the wind. We headed south into the town of Turangi with the plan of getting a fly fishing guide and trying to learn since it is widely known as the fly fishing capital of the world. Once we reached town we found an i-site, which are stops around New Zealand full of maps and information. The guides were reasonable and taught complete novices, but when we went to book the three hours, we were told by the guide that it was unfortunately too windy for fly fishing. I know nothing about fly fishing but was surprised to hear that this was a glassy water sport.
Our next idea was to hike what is commonly called New Zealand's best one day tramp (or hike as we say) in the National Park of Tongariro which hikes over the saddle of volcanoes and craters to reach a huge vista. The drastic weather once again foiled our plan and we were let down to hear that it was SNOWING (ugh) and unsuitable for any hiking until at least two days from now when the weather was expected to clear.
Our next plan was to drive west to the area of New Zealand's second largest volcano, Mt Taranaki, and escape the windy cold area of Lake Taupo and the Tongariro National Park where we had been. We decided to take the scenic route called "Forgotten World Highway" and it certainly lived up to it's name. It was truly a gorgeous scenic drive of green hillsides and river valleys, allowing us to see more sheep in a day than we have seen in our entire lives 100 times over. The sheep had just had their lambs in September, so it was actually very cute to see all the babies running around the bright green landscape. We stopped to hike out to Mt Damper falls, which at 85 meters is the highest waterfall on the North Island of NZ. It was cool to see the water cascading down the amphitheater of rock into the river gorge below. Yet again, an amazing sight with nearly no one around for miles.
After passing through the tiny slit of Moki tunnel on the "Forgotten Highway," and passing about 10 million more sheep, we made it to New Plymouth just past Mt. Taranaki. The town was cute and we went straight to the local Fitzroy beach to see some massive surf rolling in from the south. It was just before sunset, so we continued south to find a spot to sleep. Avoiding campgrounds and RV parks (or 'holiday parks' as they say) like the plague, we finally settled on a quiet strip of grass along the beach in Tataraimaka Historical Preserve. The van is once again right up against the rocky beach and waves, although the surf is messy and huge, we have a perfect view out the window over the ocean.