A nostalgia stopover was next, at Rotorua's Blue Lake. The Top 10 camp is where the family used to go in the last 2 weeks of January, when I was a teenager. A good place to waterski as there was no tide (skiing all day if we wanted to) and the water was fresh so the boat and skis and ropes didn't need washing down each time ... When we first started going there Dad and Don Riding decided we all needed to wear skibelts as there's less buoyancy in fresh water than in salt. It does make a difference to how far down in the water you sit before takeoff. But Dad and Don's reasoning was that being less buoyant, if we came off and hurt ourselves, we'd be easier to get out if we were wearing a skibelt. Of course my fall there was in very shallow water when I forgot I wasn't coming in to land at the bach and as I was leaning over to perform a rooster tail, when the skeg hit the bottom, I tumbled over and over on my side lots of grazing on my elbows, knees and head. I remember Mum and Dad took me to A&E to make sure I hadn't cracked my skull. And pumice isn't forgiving or sterile ...
It's a really nice camp, much extended now I think, with good facilities. We did a walk around the lake and then went for a swim. David happily tried out his new snorkel, goggles and flippers.
|Checking that they fit
|We walked around the lake in the morning. The first part is beside the road, the rest is through the bush.
|From the parking area you can see both the Blue Lake and the Green Lake - this is the latter. The water does look to be quite a different colour. Something to do with the depth and the material that is on the bottom.
|Looking from the parking area back to the beach area at the edge of Blue Lake
|In the bush on a well formed path
|In places, we could see across the lake, but mostly we were walking in the quiet of the bush.
|Preparing the vegetables for dinner - that table is FAR bigger than the bench in the galley.
Ann and Bill Anaru came for dinner - Ann and David worked together in the US and they are one of the couples we will be joining in France for the reunion in early May. For the first time, I cooked nasi goreng in the oven - none of my pots or the frying pan were big enough. It's a successful method, but I forget how hot that little oven gets, so some of the rice was a bit crispy...
Then it was onwards, heading south.
On our way to Taupo we stopped off at Mamaku and took a trip on the little railcars - computer operated, electric on the way down, and petrol driven on the way back. All I had to do was be in charge of the handbrake and the windscreen wipers. David did not want the responsibility ...
|It did rain a wee bit
|Ready for the return trip - the cars had to be turned. It was a really simple one-person operation: we drove up on to a little turntable and the woman pulled them around, then pushed them off the turntable on to the track. Voila!
|There's the turntable behind us.
A couple of nights at the Taupo NZMCA camp followed, both of them marred by the terrorist attack in Christchurch. As I noted in a previous post, it really rocked us and we hunkered down and kept to ourselves, watching news and following the progress of recovering the bodies, updates on those injured and watching how much support and care was being offered by so many people - led by our amazing Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern. Sleep was hard to come by and peace of mind was absent.
|The NZMCA park is adjacent to Taupo airport where at least two skydiving firms operate from. On Saturday there were lots of tandem skydivers; judging by the yelling and cheers, they were enjoying falling out of the sky ...
On Sunday we roused ourselves and decided we needed to get back in to the human race again. So we headed out to Orakei Korako - if you are coming to NZ and if you do one thermal area, make it this one. It is compact, stunning and well run. As Al from Derwent 6 said 'you know you've had a good time when it's 11am and you've already taken 137 photos.' Al and Del stayed in the carpark the night before and were on their own. When we arrived the carpark was heaving, about 20 motorhomes and only a few cars.
|And there were more motorhomes on the left side of the carpark.
|I think this piece is called the Artist's Palette - very very hot all over it, so it's strictly stay on the boardwalk!
|A boiling pool in the middle and the silica flow from the section above.
|Hot, hot, hot
|Look closely and you can see that the mud is boiling.
|Some welcome shade on the way round - it is a few degrees hotter on the thermal area than it is across the lake at the carpark and cafe.
I had forgotten how up and down the paths are - lots of steps but well-established boardwalks pretty much everywhere. As we got to the cave at the bottom, I saw a little dog that seemed very familiar. Then the man looked at me and pointed (I had already done my 'Hello, good dog' welcome ). It was Dave and Kelly who had been parked up at Tongaporutu a couple of weeks prior. Reconnecting with familiar faces was just what we needed at that time.
I sent photos to Lesley whom we had taken there back in 2008 - she recognised it but couldn't remember the name which is not surprising.
We then had a night in a Taupo motorcamp so we could have David's sister Ginny and her husband Graham around for dinner. I had intended to cook it all down by the lake at a DOC site at Whakaipo near Acacia Bay. However the drive from the road was awful - in narrowboat circles we describe shallow water as having the bottom too close to the top. This access track (not a road) had such big humps and hollows and high spots that I described it as having too much of it too close to our undercarriage. So once we arrived (no place to safely turn on the way), I said to David that all I wanted to do was leave ...
So on to the motorcamp where I cooked cheese tart, prepared Thai Beef Salad and had a nana nap.
|The cheese tart was our starter.
Dinner was a success, and for dessert I conjured up (magic woman, that I am) roasted peaches and pears with whipped cream. There was lots of criticism that we didn't have
a) an electric beater, or
b) a hand beater.
I made do with a whisk, and had to do most if the whipping myself as David doesn't seem to have the knack of getting the air into the cream by lifting the whisk effectively. And, lucky me, I even got to do the dishes myself as David, Ginny and Graham were chatting ... Funny, that.
No photos of Ginny and Graham as I was too busy in the galley ...