A week in Pukawa Bay (Lake Taupo) exploring Mount Tongariro National Park (North Island, New Zealand)

In April 2018 Nick and I arrived in Wellington, New Zealand, with plans to take a ferry from Wellington down to Picton, South Island, and explore the national parks of Westland Tai Poutini and Fiordland. These plans were quickly derailed when a freak storm hit New Zealand overnight, including tornadoes, airport closures and early April snow blizzards. The ferry was cancelled, and as we listened to the local radio for updates, we also learnt that it was the 50 year anniversary of the Wahine Disaster - New Zealand’s worst maritime disaster in which a ferry sunk off Wellington's shoreline and many people tragically lost their lives.

With the ominous storms continuing, Nick and I decided to make alternative plans and look for somewhere to stay where we could batten down the hatches and avoid the wild weather. Through a Google search of last minute North Island accomodation options we stumbled upon a house advertising a secluded location, rainforest surrounds and "a fireplace for toasty winter stays." It was located in the small village of Pukawa Bay on the southern shores of Lake Taupo, within a short drive from the Tongariro National Park. We didn't know anything about the area or what to expect, but with the storms intensifying and the lure of a warm toasty fire, we decided to book 7 nights.

The following photographs document our week spent in Pukawa Bay and exploring the nearby volcanic and geothermal wonders of the neighbouring region. The weather continued to be stormy for the most part of our stay, but in many ways this only added to the beauty with snow-capped mountains, moody skies and lush rainforest walks. The Māori tribes who have inhabited the region since at least the 14th century refer to it as 'tapu', sacred, and continue to have deep spiritual connections to the landscape. As tourists in such a sacred place Nick and I were incredibly grateful to have the experience of visiting, and particularly thankful to the custodians and communities who have worked towards protecting it over the years