Friday 20 November 2020

To the manor

How exciting! We didn't only leave Waiheke today, we left Auckland! What a thrill, after so long, to hit the actual road and go somewhere else. Not that it's anywhere we haven't been before, numerous times, mind: Taupo, a huge, deep lake in the middle of the North Island, formed by a volcanic explosion so powerful that it formed a hole, rather than a cone. 

Our focus this time though is the little settlement of Kinloch, around the edge of the lake from Taupo town. This is where Kinloch Manor sits, on a hill in the middle of the golf course - the only one in NZ designed, and played, by Jack Nicklaus, golfers are excited to point out - the main building channelling a castle vibe, the villas low-profile in the surrounding grounds.

Ours is very lovely, with a beautiful view out across the lake to the distant mountains volcanoes, huge bathroom with standalone bath, big comfy bed, absurdly well-equipped kitchen (I mean, who would use that when the restaurant is so good, and, to be frank, you're comfortable with paying so much for the accommodation that self-catering is surely irrelevant). Best of all, though, is the electric golf cart supplied for easy access to all parts of the property. Good fun! The only down-side is that the metal Labrador at the entrance to reception looks so sad...

I nipped out to get a bit of story material at some hot springs I hadn't been to before: Otumuheke Stream, with a little cluster of hot pools just before it flows into the Waikato River, and which is free to access. It was a bit of a mission to find, to be honest, mostly owing to my inevitably choosing the wrong direction when presented with a choice, and ending up in the wilds of a sports park. After beating my way off-track through the bush for a bit, relieved as ever that bears, snakes and pumas weren't part of the picture, I found the back way into the pools, which were pretty, beautifully warm, and patronised by people who had simply strolled there through the front entrance.

Back at the lodge, there were complimentary (disclosure: it's all complimentary for me) canapés on the terrace watching golfers battling with some of the course's 172 bunkers. Then followed a truly delicious five-course dégustation dinner at a table right in the window with a great view of the sunset over the lake, flocks of welcome swallows flitting about just outside, and ducks waddling over the greens far below. After such a big dinner, I would have been waddling myself, back to the villa - except, with the golf cart, happily there was no need. 

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