Upon multiple recommendations by hitch hikers about Wai-o-Tapu, I cobbled together two separate bus tickets which dropped me off in the middle of the road in practically the middle of nowhere, but I knew there was a tavern across the street at the drop off and I was able to leave my bag for a few hours before hiking a couple of miles to the park. Surprisingly, nobody offered me a ride. Wai-o-Tapu was worth the excursion, featuring hiking routes with exotic colored lakes and thermal geysers which animated the skyline. Outside the park, I walked a little further to a free secret spot called “Hot-and-Cold” where thermal heated water converges with a cooler pond. I hopped in and had a wonderful conversation with some of the others, and was offered a ride, which allowed me to see a few more nearby sites before getting dropped off at the Wai-o-Tapu tavern where I enjoyed a cold post hot spring ice cream before running back across the road with my bag to wait for the bus pickup. I couldn’t believe that I was the only passenger on and off at that stop. Arriving in Taupo, a small volcanic lakeside town with, I explored a little, asked for more recommendations, and spontaneously signed up for a one direction 20km Tongariro Alpine Crossing the next day!
Hitch hikers have really good recommendations. They usually have the extra time to explore all over the place because hitch hiking by it’s nature takes multiple segments to get to a destination, with local drivers and new friends all along the way who share local suggestions.