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A kaleidoscope of sights

During the school holiday's my husband's immediate plan was to go to Auckland. In the two years I have been in Gisborne I don't know how many times I have visited the City of Sails, but I thought it was time for something new.

For the last school holidays, before my husband mentioned a trip to Auckland, I planned a trip to Taupo — a perfect mid-winter holiday destination.

The picturesque town sits on the shores of Lake Taupo and is a popular tourist spot.

There are plenty of things to do in Taupo. From water-sports to adventure activities, breathtaking nature views and trout fishing, this town has the unique ability to accommodate all visitors' needs.

On a tight budget and with lots of exciting and unique activities, my family left Taupo with lasting memories.

During our trip to the heart of the North Island, the weather chose not to play ball, it rained a lot and there were very few sunshine hours, yet we made the most of it.

We started our trip at the magnificent Ngatoroirangi Mine Bay Maori rock carvings. These carvings can only be accessed by water so lake cruises are a great way to explore them. And what's better than sitting back, relaxing, sipping a cup of tea and exploring the lake on a scenic cruise.

The giant rock carvings have been hailed as one of New Zealand's most extraordinary contemporary Maori artworks. Towering 14 metres above the deep water of Lake Taupo, Matahi Brightwell and four other artists took four years to complete the impressive portrait of Matahi's ancestor. All this information is given on the cruise. We were so delighted with this experience.

By the time we returned after the two-hour cruise we were starving and, even though I am not a big McDonald's fan, I love innovative structures.

I was excited to check out the decommissioned DC3 plane which is a part of the Taupo McDonald's restaurant. The aircraft was well converted and had a nice seating arrangement inside — we could even see the cockpit. The plane made it the coolest McDonald's I have ever been to.

On a mission to explore Taupo, we couldn't afford to skip Huka Falls. The Huka Falls are the largest falls on the Waikato River, New Zealand's longest river. The river is normally about 100 metres wide, but just before the Huka Falls it enters a shallow ravine of hard volcanic rock and narrows to a 20-metre wide gorge with a dramatic 11-metre drop.

On our way to Huka Falls we came across a spectacular viewing platform from where we could see the entire waterfall.

There is a short track that allows everyone to admire the beauty of the crystal clear water from different angles.

In close proximity to Huka Falls is Huka Honey Hive where we got a chance to taste an array of exotic honeys.

Another lookout is hiding right where Huka Falls Road meets the Thermal Explorer Highway.

Follow Loop Road to a breathtaking view over Taupo — from the mountains all the way down to the lake — with the beautiful town in between.

It was a perfect way to wind up a tranquil visit to Huka Falls, although I did miss the thrill that a high-speed jet boat would have provided.

By now we were too tired to do anything else so we headed to our accommodation.

My eight-year-old son has always wanted to go camping but we had never planned or had a chance to go. So to give him the feeling of camping in a campervan, I booked a room at MountViews Glamping — a retro caravan getaway.

We spent the night in a campervan surrounded by mountains and lush green paddocks. And when we got up in the morning, the most exciting thing I could have ever given a thought to was the open shower in the woods.

The garden property also had a wonderful retro games room that kept my boy busy.

Then it was time to get back to Gisborne, but before heading home we visited Lava Glass Sculpture Garden.

It is a unique attraction that features not only an acre of manicured grounds, ponds and bird-attracting native trees, but also more than 600 glass art sculptures.

A walk through the garden was like experiencing a kaleidoscope of colours, with magical glass flowers, glass korus, glass trees, glass mushrooms, tree orbs and a waterfall made from a series of glass shell platters that trickled water gently down a rock slope to the pond below. It was difficult to pick a favourite piece in this garden as every piece was as beautiful as the last.

From flower vase to paper weights — they were spectacular. At the Lava Glass studio we also watched the glass-blowing process — how the molten glass is shaped and blown to form a vase.

Overall it was a truly wonderful trip with fantastic natural attractions to fill the days with unforgettable memories.

RETRO GLAMPING: Preeti and her family enjoying their stay at a caravan gateway in Taupo. Pictures by Preeti Maheshwari
HIDDEN SIGHTS: Preeti, Mayank and Devansh enjoy the guided cruise as they experience the extraordinary Maori carving.
COLOURFUL AND CREATIVE: Preeti and her family pose for a picture with a glass rainbow.
GLASS BEAUTIES: Glass tulips adorn the Lava Glass Sculpture Garden.
GLASS FOUNTAIN: Water trickles from a waterfall made from a series of glass shell platters.