The Craters of the Moon

The first time I saw the Craters of the Moon, I was crying. The hot, white, sulphurous fumes mingled with my tears, which made my face feel very strange indeed.

I was crying because I was tired, and because my family had just had an argument. I don’t remember what it was about. Perhaps my sister and I hadn’t wanted to visit any more tourist attractions. It was late and we were hungry, but here Dad was, dragging us around yet another site of supposed interest. I didn’t know or care what the place was. I was determined not to enjoy it.

The funny thing is, though, I enjoyed it immensely. I enjoyed it so much I was eager to go back years later. I couldn’t even remember it properly, but I knew it was special.

Craters of the Moon

The Craters of the Moon are just outside Taupō, the last stop on the campervan trip I recently took with my partner. I simply had to see them again. If nothing else, I remembered the feel of walking amongst them. I’d stomped off alone, half-running along the boardwalk, and suddenly I was entranced by the mystical landscape around me. Such wonder made the anger I had for my parents seem insignificant. I was lost in the billowing fumes rising from the muddy craters.

The mud was an odd colour. In fact, the whole landscape was a bit off, as though someone had sat down to paint it, but hadn’t had the right pigments.

Craters of the Moon

My partner and I paid the entry fee – $8 each – and set off along the boardwalk. I could still feel the tears on my face: cool and fresh when the wind licked them; hot and tingly when the fumes did. Of course, I wasn’t crying this time. I was an adult and I had chosen to come. I just hoped I wouldn’t be disappointed; that I hadn’t built it up too much in my mind. (Or my partner’s.)

“It doesn’t look much like the moon,” he said.

He was right, of course. But it did, I thought, look like a Victorian artist’s rendering of the moon. Picture a cartoon featuring the adventures of an intrepid space missionary reaching out to the lunar inhabitants; perhaps planting a Union Flag atop one of the larger craters. Very steampunk.

Admittedly, it’s not one of the best geothermal attractions in New Zealand, but at $8, it’s worth checking out. You can spend an hour wandering around it – more if you allow yourself to become mesmerised by the craters. My partner and I didn’t have time, unfortunately, as we had to return our campervan. I could have gazed into a few of them for ages.

New Zealand’s Best Places for Jet Boating

I love jet boating. You get all the thrill of a rollercoaster ride, but you’re surrounded by beautiful scenery. Plus it’s a great way to cool off.

Jet boating is kind of a big thing in New Zealand. It was invented here, after all. I’ve been jet boating all over the country, so where’s the best place for it?

Well here’s my list of the

Top 5 Places to Go Jet Boating in New Zealand

– let the countdown begin!

5) Rotorua

My first ever New Zealand jet boating experience was on Lake Rotorua. It was tame in comparison to other experiences on this list, but still fun. It was a great way to see the lake and learn about Rotorua’s history – a sort of half thrill ride, half informative tour. Check out the Kawarau Jet website if you’re interested.

4) Auckland

Taking a cruise around Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf is a fantastic experience. There’s so much to see, including the impressive island volcano of Rangitoto, pods of dolphins and the Auckland City skyline itself. Add to that a few heart-stopping spins and you’ve got one hell of a jet boat ride. You can find Auckland Jet Boat Tours down at the Auckland Viaduct Harbour.

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This picture, along with the other pictures in this article, was purchased by my family from Rapids Jet, following our wonderful jet boating experience with them. (See below.)

3) Christchurch

My family visited Christchurch on our South Island campervan holiday. It has a few jet boating options. To the north there’s the Waimakariri, a beautiful braided river that flows from the Southern Alps through a canyon, so you’ve got stunning mountain scenery, waterfalls, cliffs and wildlife, as well as high-speed thrills in clear water that’s sometimes worryingly shallow. To the south there’s the Rakaia Gorge, which featured in The Amazing Race and is just as beautiful. Check out Waimak Alpine Jet, Jet Thrills or Discovery Jet.

2) Taupo

To the north of Lake Taupo lies New Zealand’s most visited natural attraction: the Huka Falls. They’re a pretty impressive sight from the bridge that crosses them – I stood there for ages. But my boyfriend has been right up to the bottom of them in the Hukafalls Jet, and there’s no better view than that. Despite the ferocity of the falls themselves, however, the river leading up to it is quite calm, so if you’re looking for a more hair-raising jet boat ride in Taupo then try Rapids Jet. That’s what my family did – it’s where all the photos in this article come from. Jet boating on rapids is so much better than doing it on flat water – there are only so many spins you can do before it gets boring.

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1) Queenstown

Queenstown is one of the many places my family’s taken a campervan rental in New Zealand. It was during that holiday that I had the best jet boating experience of my life. It makes sense – Queenstown is New Zealand’s adventure capital; there are heaps of jet boat operators in and around it. Lake Wanaka, for example, is a gorgeous glacial lake with a backdrop of snow-capped mountains – imagine jet boating there! There are simply too many incredible places to choose from, but I think you’d find it difficult to top the Shotover River Canyons.

The Shotover Jet was just… wow. The ride and the scenery were both breath-taking. It was scary – the boat actually left the water at times, skimming over rocks and around canyon walls. The colours of the walls and the water seemed unreal. I spent the entire ride simply marvelling at the nature around me. And screaming with delight, of course.

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Gosh, I haven’t been jet boating in a while and writing this article is making me want to go again! Pity it’s an expensive thing to do. For a cheaper (and slower) water activity, you could try kayaking. Check out my 10 Awesome Places to Go Kayaking in New Zealand.