Quick update here, more for the pictures, and to keep the total time at the internet cafes minimal.
In Taupo right now, which is home to the biggest body of water in New Zealand: Lake Taupo. The town is on the north end of the lake, and is right on the edge of the Taupo Volcanic Zone. Maui rolled us into town yesterday and into a superb holiday park. Incase we didn't mention this before, "camping" in Oz and NZ are in holiday parks; this is basically a glorified RV park. So, it can be safe to say we have been living next to trailer homes for the last 3 weeks! Fortunately, the holiday park here is next to mineral hot springs, so they do have their advantages as well.
Kate and I wanted to go for a hike after indulging the night before at a New Zealand restaurant. The lamb here is quite delectable, and I am not one to order lamb when dining out. This is quite a treat after too many dinners of 2-minute noodles! Mount Tauhara is right in town and makes for a perfect day trip.
It is only about 2000 feet of vertical, but it goes straight up! The growth in the forest was the most unique and stunning either of us have witnessed. All the trees were covered in moss and other various greenery.
We are about to head into the thick of the Volcanic ranges, which is home to another LOTR mountain: Mordor. We really shouldn't have watched the LOTR trilogy while here, it's the only entertainment we've watched in a month and it's seared into my brain.