Monday, May 11, 2015

New Zealand, Part 3: Lake Taupo (and Getting There)

For our final, finale weekend in New Zealand, we drove down to Lake Taupo to lead a weekend-long retreat at the Tauhara Centre, which is something like a mini-Expanding Light that hosts all sorts of different spiritually oriented retreats on a beautiful hill overlooking the lake.

But first we had to get there. We’d named our GPS on the first day of the trip: Georgia Sweet Potato. (She can’t spell, but she’s pretty good with directions.) So far, she’d been a great navigator, and we’d had no complaints. But she must have gotten some setting clicked for “obscure roads,” because we started taking some interesting turns.

We were a little suspicious when we turned off the highway that actually said “Taupo,” but we were still on a highway, could still go 100kph, and didn’t think it could be all that bad. Then we turned off onto a smaller road that we figured would just take us to another highway. Then with each new turn we took, the roads got smaller and more winding until we were just bumping down a little dirt track with nothing around us but cows and scenery. But oh, what scenery. Beautiful green hills fresh from the rain, that at one point we simply had to stop the van to get out and look. So maybe Georgia knew what she was doing after all.

Well, eventually the roads started getting bigger and more paved, until we saw that we were finally coming back to a main highway, at which point I commented that we had not passed or even seen a single other vehicle the entire time we were on the backroads. Literally the second after I said that, a car came around the corner ahead of us, just to prove me wrong. (I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it only actually existed for just the 10 seconds it took to get around the next corner behind us.)

Anyway, we made it to Taupo. We had about 35 people there for the retreat, which was a very nice size group for that facility. And somehow, the two days that we had there felt packed with a week’s worth of activities. (A lot will be getting posted on YouTube over the next few days as I get them processed.) One of the most fun parts of it for me was the Saturday night concert with Dambara (here’s the video). I’ve had a delightful time accompanying him throughout this entire trip, and that evening was a very nice culmination of it all. We started off with some fun, lively, laughing songs, and gradually moved more and more inward, which finally led us to an outdoor fire ceremony with a bonfire out under the stars.

On the way home we were a bit less trusting of Georgia, and blatantly ignored her attempts to get us off the highway. (The first time had a sign pointing to a “Stock Effluent Disposal Site,” and the second time, very shortly after it, to an “Animal Fun Park,” which sounded very suspicious in that context.)

But we did make a quick stop off at Huka Falls. They’re not super high, but the water rushing through the ravine becomes such a beautiful shade of frothy, white turquoise that is absolutely stunning. The light was already fading, so the picture doesn’t quite capture it here.

Today we’re lounging around back at Kavita’s in Hamilton, after dropping Travis off to head back to Australia. Then we’re heading home on Tuesday evening, to arrive 13 hours later on Tuesday afternoon (they refund you the day you lost getting here on the way back). Photos from the whole trip are here.

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