A well needed road trip out of the Wairarapa. Rawene in the Hokianga was our destination and my mum the host.
I risked my life driving with Sophia. My favourite German seems to think the Autobahns are a thing here in NZ. Just…Scary. It grew frustrating trying to explain that Lord Konrad never made it here and slow windy roads are the price Kiwi’s paid for steering clear of quite bossy heads-of-state.
Sophia, i’m sure, grew tired of trying to teach me German. I just can’t produce some of the sounds. Being able to speak a bit of Mandarin, I was quite deflated over this inability to get my tongue around- apparently- the easiest language to learn for an English speaker. I have overcome this now though, inventing my own language called Theutsch, which is loosely based on
Deutsch nothing at all. Sophia can converse in Theutsch almost as well as me and neither my Kiwi friends or her German friends can understand what we are talking about.
We stopped by the lake and had a picnic, and I tried a “delicacy” that Sophia was sent from German. Wurst in a can. It tasted just like luncheon sausage. I was allowed to drive for a little bit.
We shot some golf balls into lake Taupo. At $20 for 20 balls, it was a quite the little racket. The kids in summer can make bank collecting all the golf balls so I guess the golf-Don spreads it around. Quite a dangerous job for a kid really. Set loose in a lake getting paid to dive for balls.
Heading north, the Geothermal area you drive through is always exotic and Sophia sought advice on how to lodge her first (of many) complaint with NZ inc. Too many traffic cones, and it really bugged her. She said NZ loves traffic cones too much as she sees them absolutely everywhere. I said PO Box 500 Wellington is the official complaints/advice mailbox. A night in Rotorua and then a big leg up to the far north. We arrived at night and had an early night.
The following days were really relaxing and we didn’t actually get up to much. A few drives around the area and wanders around Rawene. Clendon House greeted us with a big orange tree in fruit which we feasted on. Rawene is looking really sharp and has had a recent influx of arty Aucklanders who have tidied up a few of the cute old buildings.
Of course, it was good to see my mum Belinda, who moved up there a couple of years ago. Her house has a wide view of the Hokianga harbour and she has big veggie gardens and some good fruit trees including Bananas and Custard Apples. Its basically tropical.
Ngawha Springs: If you are up north do not miss this place. It is the most legit old world Maori touristy-but-not hot springs in New Zealand. It looks a bit dirty but its just aged and au natural. All the pools are drained every day and filled fresh. Maori local people frequent the place more than tourists, so you will hear plenty of laughs that are unrivalled in authenticity and delivery (I reckon Maori people have the best laughs in the world.)
The cold pools are chalky white (as opposed the black colouring of the hot pools) and the white mud that bubbles through the Kauri pool boards appears ONLY at Ngawha and one place in Europe. Makes your skin feel wonderful. A worker a few years ago got busted sticking the mud in 44 gal. drums at the end of the day, and sending them down to Chinese buyers in Auckland. Not a bad idea- just bubbles up again everyday anyway. He was found out and fired, but not before he bought himself a new Land Rover. The Iwi owner of this place has decided not to commercialise the springs, and judging from the $2-4 entry fee, they are putting real gumption into sticking with that plan. It is a real treasure of a place. Ngawha was an original hotel corp. site but was dropped because the surrounding scenery wasn’t good enough. Some locals complain that the nearby geothermal power plant will be the death of the place, slowly depleting the steam pressure beneath the ground.