Saturday, 23 February 2019

NZ 2018 Day 5: The drive to Taupo

Waking up on Saturday was exciting - our first married day! It was really fun to cuddle as a married couple, and call each other husband and wife. After our alarm went off we lazily got up and got dressed, then headed on down to breakfast in the Hippopotamus restaurant.

I love hotel breakfasts, I really do, and this one was in a gorgeous restaurant with a stunning view.

We ordered a mocha and a hot chocolate, determined to use up our drink vouchers, then helped ourselves at the buffet.

It turned out that for me, the food was a bit too fancy! The potatoes were too peppery, the eggs were too moist, and I was just reminded of how simple and white my taste buds are, lol. So I got some Weet-Bix as a second helping. James on the other hand loved it, so that was good. Though we got a surprise when leaving...we apparently couldn't use our drink vouchers here either! Oh well, we tried.

And then it was time to say goodbye to the QT Museum. We checked out a few more of the art pieces on our way back to our room, including this mind-boggling look made completely from tea bags!

Then we packed up the last of our things (and forgot about the Red Bull in the fridge, oops), went down to fix up our bill, and caught a taxi back to the Airbnb. Once there, we packed up the things we had left (and I forgot about the ginger-lemon syrup Nat had kindly brewed up for sick little me that was in the fridge, really regretted that), loaded up the van, took a couple of final photos and went on our way.

We briefly stopped at a nearby quirky mini golf place so James could grab a photo riding one of the statues (I get photos with food, he gets photos on top of giant animals), then continued onwards. It was a long day of driving and in the end James did most of it, though Luke and I did some as well.

I didn't take notes of where we stopped or who drove which leg, so this post will be a bit vague. Our first stop on the drive was at a supermarket once we'd fully cleared the Wellington area so we could get snacks and drinks for the road. There was a sausage sizzle out the front, and of course I had to have one.

Our next stop was when we saw a windmill and were all very interested and a little baffled. Turned out it was a new-ish construction and was actually used for milling flour.

I have to say, stopping places like this is one of my favourite parts of driving on holidays. You see something and just decide to go there on a whim. I'm a big pre-planner but I love these surprises too.

Then we drove on and marvelled at the changing scenery, with relatively frequent stops to take photos and many moments we lamented being unable to pull over safely to check out other views.

We were all a little run down, so we just stopped at a McDonald's for lunch rather than trying anything new. There's a comforting universality to eating Maccas mid-way through a long drive.

Then finally we were reached Lake Taupo and were on the home stretch for the day. We stopped by the lake as soon as we could to take in the view and get greeted by the birds.

There was pumice by the water, which was really fun to throw in and watch it bobbing away. Pumice always amazes me, and this was the first time I'd ever encountered it in the wild. I also loved that New Zealand has black swans like we do!

After only a little more driving (half an hour maybe? Again, no record keeping lol) we arrived at our next Airbnb. Rather than being an independent house that we let ourselves into, this was the bottom level of a couple's home, David and Mary. They were super lovely and we got to meet them and ask a few questions about the area, mainly about hot springs!

Since this day on our itinerary was just "get to Taupo" we found ourselves with evening to spare. If the wifi at the Airbnb had been stronger I think we all would have just chilled with Netflix, but it wasn't so we ended up going to Taupo DeBretts Spa Resort instead. This place had a range of outdoor pools and slides, but we just asked for one of the private indoor pools and soaked ourselves in 41 degree mineral-rich water for three quarters of an hour. It was delightful, if very hot, and each couple fell to taking it turn and turn about to massaging each other, which was lovely. Despite the fact that we didn't use any of the communal outdoor pools it was still really cool to see all the steam rising, lit by coloured outdoor lights, and to gawk at the processing pool of geothermal water that was way, way hotter than what we were in!

This whole experience was a first for me, and I think I'm now in love with hot springs. It was a perfect conclusions to a day stuck in a car, and if I hadn't still been sick and tired I'd have loved to have soaked for longer. But instead we dried off, headed back to the Airbnb, and took a brief walk to Ploughmans, a pub our hosts recommended. We got a little lost on the way and walked into someone's backyard, due to it being pitch black, but then we were there.

And wow, yeah, I think this wins the honour of being my favourite pub ever. It had a suit of armour for goodness sake!

Like everything we'd eaten so far, the food was lovely (venison pie followed by waffles for me) and it was a nice relaxed meal. James, Nat and I tried to take a nice photo of our wedding nails together. Luke joined in too ^__^

Unfortunately, Nat developed a migraine while we were out and then they had trouble sorting out our bill which had somehow become merged with another table. So it was a bit of a downer ending but we got ourselves back to the Airbnb, showered, and crashed out for some well deserved sleep.

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