Taupo, New Zealand
Good food, good company, parkrun, long run – a perfect weekend. Rob offered me still more good hospitality and boy was I tempted. A beautiful location, being spoilt rotten, and away from the backpacker gang for a little longer. Lonely Planet mentions as a downside ‘possibly a slightly greater sense of entitlement’ to backpackers here, since they’re richer, and that does fit a little too often for comfort. Plus they’re young so basics like closing a door without slamming it haven’t yet occurred to them.
I moved on, though, on the Sunday bus. Staying Saturday night gave me the chance to join in with Hamilton Road Runners’ Sunday long run. The prospect made me nervous – jokes that I could only get to 5k were based on the last month’s reality, after all – but it was the perfect long run. We started early, five of us exploring (that’s just my perspective, of course) Hamilton in a 20k route that took us past the university and through the gardens while old friends ribbed each other with gloves off and the summer heat crept in as we got towards 9.00. Finishing back at the clubhouse, where the parkrun had started, I was even tempted to nudge up to half marathon distance by going the long way round the lake but decided to quit while I was ahead. Fabulous. The day before, I’d talked to Kevin, first-placer at parkrun, and he’d invited me on his long run. A trail run that sounded great, and shorter than that a couple of weeks before, when he’d run his longest distance ever.
That latter run had been 55km, however, which still left a 40km for Sunday. Yikes. I had no hesitation in saying I wasn’t fit enough.
Later, Rob dropped me off at the bus stop and we parted company. Until I get my next trip to NZ sorted out, in any case. A few hours later I was in Taupo and picking a hostel. The Blackcurrant backpackers has the highest ratings, but looks like a concrete motel monstrosity from the outside. Inside, though, I was alone in a dorm for 8, individual beds, a comfortable lounge and plenty of space to sit outside.
Taupo on a Sunday evening was looking good. It’s a small town, all grid work streets and low buildings, businesses in the centre and a few pubs on the waterfront, looking over the huge lake, which is the product of volcanic activity. Figures:
Max depth 186 metres, surface area 61,600 ha, total volume 59km cubed.
I liked the place immediately and booked for two nights. I watched The Gilded Cage in the tiniest cinema screen I’ve yet been in – 11 seats and not the biggest viewing area, but it worked and the film was a charm.
On the window of the cinema a Wednesday evening 5k was advertised. Hmm.
Reading: Last Light. Apocalyptic thriller, leavened with the bread of ‘ooh, what if’. Much more pap-like than the author intended and there, 2/3 the way in, the hallmark of **** writing – one of the characters thinks ‘god, this is like a film’. C
onversation starters (presented to lay bare their awfulness): “what is the longest tunnel you’ve been in?” “If snow could fall in a flavour, what flavour would it be?”