On Friday 19 April about twenty  Hutt Valley Rotarians and supporters converged on this tiny village on the southern shores of Lake Taupo for a weekend of tree planting, fellowship and great scenery.  The weekend started by most meeting at the carpark of Lake Rotopunamu on SH41 about 10kms west of Turangi.  Our host, Shirley Potter, soon had everyone enthusiastically climbing through the bush track into the Tongariro National Park.  This lake is a hidden treasure and is highly recommended you stop off and have a look.  Despite the rain, and learning how to clear and reset  some vermin traps, all reported a great start to the weekend.
The local Indian restaurant did well on Friday night and was a great night sharing food, drink and mix & mingling. The ages present were from 2yo to  70s.  We were accommodated in three Airbnb houses and tended to congregate at The End of the Road, the house with the best fireplace.
Saturday morning started with breakfast, followed by a Health and Safety briefing, the digging spades had sharpened edges, and divided into working parties.  We soon found there is more to planting trees than just dig a hole and drop a tree in, they need nurturing, watering and with a little bed of carpet.  Later in the day, with over 600 trees planted there were some very tired Rotarians who then went to take the waters at the hotpools.  While they were away it was up to the chefs who produced a spectacular dinner, salads, the usual  sausies, roasted lamb, roasties with pumpkin, potato, kumera and carrots followed by  apple crumble, custard and cream.  Very enjoyable with a glass of Savvi.
A great time was had by all who attended, so much so a return trip is planned for next April.
Travel Tip:  Driving up the Desert Road, about 10 minutes before Turangi, there's a hidden gem well worth a visit.  Turn right up a signposted road, Tree Trunk Gorge Rd, a  sealed road through beautiful native bush and stop at the bridge, about 5 kms in, and park the car, walk back onto the bridge and look down, you will see a miniature Huka Falls with water rushing through a narrow gorge about 70 meters below.  Spectacular!
Drive on another couple of ks to the end of the road, park and walk about 300 meters to see one of the massive  water diversion pipes across the valley.  Gantries both ends and you can walk across, great bush photos.