You will be picked up from Rotorua City or the Rotorua Airport between 8.30am and 9.00am, or Taupō central at 10.00am before heading south through the North Island’s geothermal heartland. You’ll skirt around the beautiful shores of Lake Taupō, the North Island’s largest lake, and then drive up through stunning native forest onto the mighty central plateau. We can also meet you in Tongariro National Park if you prefer, please just ask us for driving directions. You will get your first taste of the topography and natural character of the Tongariro National Park with a 2-hour loop walk to Taranaki Falls, which is part of the Tongariro Northern Circuit Great Walk track. These falls tumble 20 metres over the edge of an old andesite lava flow, erupted from Mt Ruapehu 15,000 years ago, into a boulder-ringed pool. You’ll see a fascinating range of beech forest, alpine meadows full of red tussock, five-finger, umbrella ferns and mountain toatoa. This is a great chance to orient ourselves amongst spectacular views of the Tongariro volcanic massif. You’ll continue to warm-up and stretch out the legs with an easy, 20 minute walk in to see Tawhai Falls, better known as ‘Gollum’s Pool.’ If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, you’ll recognise this picturesque, 13 metre-high waterfall, where Faramir and his archers watch Gollum fish. After settling into our cozy lodgings, we’ll share a hearty, 2-course Kiwi-style meal and a cold glass of something to toast the beginning of our Tongariro adventure as we watch the sun set over the magnificent volcanic skyline. Have a soak in the hot tub, nurse an after-dinner tipple at the on-site bar, or just put your feet up and prepare for exciting adventures that await us tomorrow!