We arrived in Taupo on day three of our holiday, after an energetic morning on the ski slopes, and as we drove up to the Anchorage we were filled with memories of our amazing January holiday with ‘Chicken’ Grandma and Grandad. They were in our thoughts every day and the wonderful memories made us feel so close to them. Both the girls remembered playing in the pool with them and the massive blow-up whale and airplane that took four-grown adults a whole lot of puff to inflate!
We’d barely unloaded the car before the girls had their togs on ready for the hot pool. There was a cool breeze and rain in the air, but the pool was delightfully hot and we splashed around for nearly an hour before retiring to our motel unit for a soak in the jacuzzi! Feeling cleansed and refreshed we tucked into a Thai take-away and an early night.
Day Four we woke to glorious sunshine. We set off to Rotorua for a morning of ‘luge‘ fun and a ride on a gondola up Mount Ngongotaha with Skyline Skyrides. The gondola took us 487 metres above sea level where we were greeted with panoramic views of Rotorua City, Lake Rotorua and the surrounding area. Our holiday snaps really don’t do it justice. We were so relaxed and busy enjoy special moments with the girls that we didn’t take many well-crafted photographs. We did take plenty of home-video footage though – so family expect a surprise this Christmas!
At the top of the mount, we headed straight for the luge ride where we adorned helmets according to head size. Each size had its own colour and so Dan sported green for large, the girls had petite and I wore a small red helmet on my pin-head! It was amusing to see how nervous everyone looked in the queue! We couldn’t wait to get going and headed down the ‘Scenic Luge’ as a warm-up. Dan, naturally, had to test his cart to the limits and thankfully Charli was equally keen to experience the thrill of speed set amongst beautiful scenery. Sophie and I were a little more sedate, being over-taken by a few young lads. The journey back up was via chair-lift and the girls thought this was the best.
After another run down (‘Scenic’ for Sophie and I, ‘Intermediate’ for speedsters Dan and Charli), we were ready for lunch. The view was incredible. It felt incredibly good to sit back, soak up the sun and take in the scenery. Sophie decided chilling out was the business and handed over her last luge ride over to the speedsters – giving them two more chances to test their cart on the bends (they managed to stay upright – just!). Meanwhile, Sophie and I spent nearly an hour being entertained by the thrill seekers on the Sky Swing.
In the afternoon Dan and I were keen to visit some geothermal attractions, which we’ve always enjoyed on previous visits to this spectacular area, but the girls were too tired. Instead, we opted for a relaxing afternoon at the thermal AC Baths in Taupo where there is a wonderful indoor/outdoor pool. The thermal mineral water is kept heated between 27 and 37 degrees and after an hour’s soak Dan and I were feeling very sophorific, whilst the girls were energized. They shadow danced in the late afternoon sun before heading back to our motel and bouncing on the trampoline till sunset!
Day Five and we needed a ‘rest day’ of simple pleasures with little driving. Feeding ducks on the edge of Lake Taupo, playground fun and riding the model train, devouring ice-creams and taking a long lunch at the Huka Prawn Park.
The Prawn Park’s restaurant is set on the beautiful Waikato River, New Zealand’s longest river. Dan and I enjoyed a very memorable morning kayaking the river in ‘BC’ days. We found a natural hot spring feeding into the river, moored up our kayaks and floated for a while. It was simply divine to be surrounded by nature whilst simultaneously feeling the heat from the heart of our planet.
Anyway, back to lunch at the Prawn Park before my memories take me elsewhere! The restaurant has the most tranquil feel to it with wonderful indoor/outdoor flow. Children are extremely well catered for, with an indoor area set up like a little school room – where the girls made some lovely friends. Charli loves prawns and Dan had to order an extra plate after she finished off his first! Outside, on the banks of the river, is a large sand-pit under a sunshade and a set of swings. For thrill seekers the Hukafalls Jet does 360 degree spins before taking off on a scenic river ride with a twist! Alas, our little dots didn’t reach the minimum height of 110cm – so we were a little richer and left with our adrenal levels normal!
Our last morning in Taupo, and day six of our hols was spent at a wonderful ‘Gypsy Fair’ that happened to be visiting. I’d been to the exact same fair a few year’s ago, whilst Dan was attending a charity golf tournament. The gypsy house trucks are divine and so ornate – with little porches on the back adorned with wind chimes and pot plants. The atmosphere was vibrant with music, colour and beautiful people so open to everything around them. We spent an hour with an amazing deaf artist who taught the girls how to draw cartoons. The girls interest in drawing followed on throughout the remainder of the holiday. Sophie enjoyed a beautiful pony ride and Charli enjoyed talking with a lady on a craft stall about the beautiful flower necklaces she was making out of clay.
In the early afternoon we took to the road again for a scenic drive from Taupo to Napier, with a lovely stop half way at a tea-house that turned into a little adventure with some cows and a dirt track. We discovered a beautiful spot at Tarawera, on DOC land, where there was a thermal pool overlooking a stunning valley of natural bush. The hot pool itself wasn’t spectacular, but the view, peace and natural surrounds made up for it. We spotted at least five Kereru within half an hour!
Next stop Napier! To be continued…