Just under a week in Auckland, followed by just under a week in Napier - a study of contrasts.
Or it possibly would be, had I made it into the centre of Auckland once in the time we were there. Our six days were spent by the beach, relaxing with both families, only interrupted by Christmas. We then came to Napier, where we have so far spent our time by the pool, relaxing with one family, interrupted only by New Years. As threatened in previous posts, I have very little to write.
Although the journey to Napier was entertaining. We left Auckland not too early in the morning, in our little silver hire car - aka the most expensive hire car in the world - $300 total for a 24 hour hire. We picked it up the evening before from the seemingly lovely conman, signed our bits and pieces, handed over all our money, and drove it away, to the sight of him laughing his head off in the rear view mirror. Our mistake was booking it from England - had he known we were Kiwis we're convinced it would have been a different matter.
So making the most of this car, we headed on our merry way south, stopping only to visit two grandmothers, a bathroom, some photographers in Hamilton, and the beautiful, scenic, dramatic Huka Falls (because why not, right?) before pitching up in Taupo and realising we didn't know where we were staying. H1 frantically looked through his travel wallet, phone, and laptop, but couldn't find any useful information at all, and I had never known anything about where we were staying, so was an even slightly lower level of usefulness. Knowing what road it was on (Rifle Range Road, home to about 30 motels) and what star rating it was (four, likethe vast majority of the motels on Rifle Range Road) we started the painful process of driving from one to the other, asking if we were booked there. At this point in the story, it's necessary to consider the fact that New Zealanders, while having access to every mod con available to everyone in the first world, will often choose not to use them, preferring a pen, some paper, and perhaps some No.8 wire and duct tape (for when things get really dire). So asking if we were booked there required asking the person behind the desk to rifle through their diaries/notepads/back of receipts looking for our name, on the off chance it was there. And they're all really friendly, so have big long conversations with you about your surname while they're searching, which is lovely, but - you know. You know.
Luckily, we hadn't done many of these before H1 performed a different search on his laptop and came up trumps with the Acapulco Motor Inn, a highly retro looking motel that gained its name in the days when Acapulco was highly exotic (on the outside anyway - inside it was very modern and lovely). We checked in and went to check out our room - all flat screen televisions and crisp white sheets and an enormous internal spa pool, with its own dedicated room, like a shrine to the hot bubbly water gods.
We went and dropped off the prohibitively expensive silver hire car, after filling it up with prohibitively expensive petrol, then headed into town for a nice drink of beer at the Speights bar (apparently when in NZ, I drink beer. Interesting). We were joined there by a good friend of H1s, hereafter known as 'Troy', and after another drink and a delicious yet slightly odd shared dinner of nachos and potato wedges, headed back to Acapulco Motor Inn for a movie and - a spa!
A paragraph ago I mentioned the spa pool in its own room, which hopefully you remember. Now, this pool was empty - you had to fill it up yourself - but despite this, and despite the fact that it was indoors, next to the bathroom, it was most definitely a pool, not a bath. We were all very clear on this, because sitting in a spa pool with your fiance and his friend is fine, but sitting in a bath with the same two people is kind of not.
So we filled it up, which took forever as it requires 300 litres of water. We passed the time by feeling bad for the environment. We then climbed in (all in our togs, I hasten to add), grabbed our glasses of bubbly (I know, but it was free) and excitedly pressed the button to make the bubbles go, thus achieving the 'spa' bit of the spa.
Nothing happened. We pressed more buttons, flicked switches, rang down to reception, and still nothing. It was kaput.
At this stage it was hard to deny it. We were three adults, with glasses of bubbly, taking a bath together in our togs. An overgrown bath, yes, but a bath nonetheless*.
And that was Taupo. It's not a city, but turns out, the interesting bits don't restrict themselves to cities. Hamilton's a city, but nothing of note happened there whatsoever.
*We swore never to talk of it - and now that this has been written, we never will.