And on to Lake Taupo, North Island, New Zealand

Tuesday 6th February 2018

Before we left for Taupo, had a lovely FaceTime with Alice, Emma, Tom and Jess – they were all a little bleary after a weekend of celebrating … but it felt so good to catch up with them. ❤️

Another magnificent drive through miles and miles of glorious New Zealand countryside – the beauty of it is just so hard to explain – it literally takes your breath away …. it stretches before your eyes for miles on end. And today we saw sheep – loads of them – I think they must have been hiding yesterday!

To break up the journey we stopped off at Waikite Valley thermal pools – home of the Te Manarao Spring, the largest single source of 100% pure boiling water in New Zealand. There are 10 pools to choose from that are filled daily from the fresh geothermal water (obviously they go through a cooling process) – water temperatures range between 35 and 40 degrees. It was fascinating to walk to see the spring and hear it boiling and then to see how the waters cascade into the pools … but mostly to relax in the invigorating mineral waters of the thermal pools. It’s unbelievably relaxing!

After a spot of lunch we hit the road again. The GPS (Jock as we affectionately call him) took us on a slight detour but we found our way back on the road to Lake Taupo. The thermal experience had made those of us who were backseat passengers a little drowsy – thank goodness for our more focused driver and sidekick. Nothing could have prepared us however for the beauty of the area where we were next to stay …. and also the fabulous accommodation we were lucky enough to be booked into. Chris and Marki met us as we parked the car and showed us into their magnificent home – they lived upstairs and our two bedroom accommodation was downstairs – it was palatial. We had the most stunning views over Lake Taupo from our patio … and even better from the upstairs patio -Marki insisted we use their patio as they were going out – she even provided us with a Thai salad and booze to save us having to go shopping!!

Having saved time on the shopping trip, we were able to fit in a swim before dinner – Marki had told us about a little tucked away place just across the road, where we were able to jump off the rocks into clear blue deep water. It was magical … we swam with ducks and black swans gliding around us and yachts sailing by.

After ‘pre-drinks’ on the upper patio, we tucked into Thai Salad, with tomatoes, rocket, peppers and courgettes picked from the garden. Sampled some fine New Zealand wines too. Before retiring to bed we enjoyed the night sky – packed with stars, including shooting stars.

Wednesday 7th February 2018

Today was definitely all about chilling. Lay in – leisurely breakfast on the patio wearing the luxury white dressing gowns provided – short walk to the beach (grass covered beach) – lazing on the beach – a bit of reading – a bit of swimming – nothing too energetic. We were joined on the beach by a family of ducks – clearly didn’t understand that we had no food with us.

We had a pair of local black swans too … I was fascinated by what turned out to be their mating dance … so videoed it. Shortly after they progressed into the ‘main activity!’ – I continued to be fascinated, never having seen this before – felt so sorry for the female whose head was under the water most of the time, came up from time to time to get air!!

Later in the afternoon we decided to be a bit more energetic and so hired some kayaks – Steve and I on one and Greg on another. Had an hour out on the lake – it was stunning – the sun had come out by this time. We were hoping Chris (our airbnb host) was watching us – he used to row for New Zealand, as well as coach them + coached the Cambridge team and Princeton!!

So a beautiful day at Lake Taupo – it has to be one of the most spectacular places we have ever visited.

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