Whanganui Bay Day 1

My friend Stefan has been staying with me in New Zealand since I arrived back from the UK. And with having him here and going straight back to work, it's been really busy and nearly impossible to play at blogging and going on new adventures.

However last Friday night, after we finished our monthly stint cooking at Ronald McDonald House for the families of sick kids, (very good cause and so much fun) Jaye and Jono picked us up in the 4x4 and we drove into the night to a bach by Lake Taupo. 

Now it's winter here in NZ and we got there at around 1am after being in the car for 5 hours. Jaye and I had been snuggled in the back seat under a duvet with the dogs, drinking champagne and generally enjoying the ride and the boys were up front. A cosy car journey indeed. 

As we drove nearer and turned a left off the main road we started to go down a track, which was very much accessible only in a large 4x4 like the one we were in. It was bumpy and treacherous and for a first time in the dark, quite spooky and exciting! Out in these parts of remote New Zealand, there is no light pollution, you can only see as far as the car headlights allow. 

About ten minutes in we hit the main part of the reservation, a bit of civilisation. We drove past the new Marai which is a kind of community/cultural meeting place in Māori Society, passed a few small wooden and brick built houses, still bumping around may I add, and finally up a little slope to our home for the next two days. 

The bach has been there for many, many years and really is basic. There's running water but no electric and the wood burning stove is out of action due to chimney old age! There's a 2 ring gas cooker and the essentials. We got in with all of our food and clothes and blankets, believe me, Jaye and i know how to pack for a trip, lit as many candles as we could find and sat down for our first cuppa on the gas stove. Some bad photo taking ensued as we chatted into the night and  I rescued the best ones I could because I still haven't mastered night photography. 

^^ Me in my cosy new pyjamas having a cuddle. ^^ 
^^ Jono giving me one his his "massages". It's usually just a painful way of him getting out the knots caused by working at a desk, sleeping on planes and in cars and carrying a handbag!^^
^^ Chloe started to really enjoy the massage I was giving her. She looks a bit like a stoned meerkat in the photo below! ^^

Despite having no source of heat, we had so many blankets and with 4 of us in bunk beds in the bach, it wasn't cold.

In the morning, Jono and Stefan were going to go climbing, but it was a rather wet day, so we had a nice slow morning. I made eggs and soldiers for breakfast and toasted the bread on the gas rings! We had plenty of nice coffee and far too many trips to the long drop! We painted our nails, listened to music, read our books and managed to stay off social media for the most part, just getting back to the simple things.

This was the view I woke up to. I had no idea what to expect having gone to bed in the dark the night before. It's beautiful right?

^^ While on a little stroll, someone found the skull of a dead rat, Jono or Stefan I believe. It photographed beautifully and I think someone I won't mention has creative plans for the scary little thing... ^^

We decided to go for a drive out to some hot pools. Taupo as you will have seen before on my blogs is very famous for it's geothermal activity and has a ridiculous amount of hot pools or springs that you can enjoy, although most are far too hot and dangerous.

When we were on the other side of Lake Taupo at Christmas, as you may have seen in my video blog here we went to a natural one where the cold stream and hot stream meets creating the perfect temperatures for you to move around in. It's also very eggy smelling!

On this side of the lake, we decided to go for a walk round some natural ones which are too hot to go in, but an incredible stroll to go on nonetheless. Then we visited a man made pool where we hired a private one for a bit. We needed to wash after being in the bach with no shower, and what better thing to do on a cold slightly wet day? Soothing, lovely hot pools! Yuss!

Whanganui falls above and below. They're pretty high up and you could see them from the road coming out of the reservation in daylight!

^^ Steam! ^^

^^ EEK! Don't fall in! These pools seriously bubble they're so hot. ^^

^^ I was trying to capture the water droplets all over the trees from the steam, it was magical but my lens kept steaming up! ^^
We found an area where the locals cook their food underground. These are called Hāngis and the nice guys below let me photograph him taking his out. It smelt amazing.

The pools don't look very glam, but they are so hot and soothing. The cold shower was a shock to the system afterwards, but I felt amazing for it.
Back at the bach, the evening drew in. We set out some food, poured a wine and went over to Maemae's house next door.

We didn't take many pictures round there but Stef played the uke and I sang. Jaye captured this one of us getting chords off the iPhone. Oh technology! It was so nice having a sing though.  
While we had been doing that, Jono was cooking a curry for us in the dark with just his head lamp and a candle! I set the table and all 5 of us sat down, said a Māori prayer and had dinner. It was so delicious.

Jono and Maemae went to bed, so Stefan, Jaye and I played the game where you guess who's written on your head. Good old fashioned fun. I guessed first! :)

So Many photos, the rest will go into a second post. 



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