Breakfast this morning is on the deck, watching the rising sun while piwakawaka (fantails) flit about in the morning air.
Today has been set aside to discover Pukawa and what better place to start than down at the lake shore. We decide to drive the car down, it’s a 11 minute walk according to Google maps. It would be nice to have been closer to the lake, but the views and tree house feel to this house makes it a sanctuary that is so worth being that far from the lake.
Pukawa has a beautiful little bay that is reserved just for swimming. There is a mix of black sand and volcanic rock which Lachie throws into the lake for a local dog to fetch. The dog has a great time chasing after it then trying to bury it in the sand.
The water is incredibly clear and we all have fun paddling in the still waters. It’s cool but refreshing. Hopefully I will be brave enough to go for a swim later.
We then head to Tokaanu to check out some geo thermal activity. Tokaanu Thermal Walk is a flat, easy, 20 minute loop track that is well maintained. There are lots of danger signs along the way, warning people not to wander from the track. There is lots of thermal activity happening here. We walk along a path lined with manuka trees, pass ponds of crystal clear water, some with bubbles rising up in them, bubbling mud pools, but the last pool was the most impressive. Again the clearest water, with plenty of steam rising off it. Every now and again the steam would clear, revealing a massive hole that appears to plummet to the middle of the earth.
After a delicious BBQ lunch, courtesy of my brother (we are all so lucky he enjoys cooking so much) I have a snooze on the deck chair in the sun. The birds are cheerful, the sun is warm, it’s easy to slip into holiday mode here. I have been so busy with work and then busy painting the exterior of the house in my free time, so this lazy, relaxing time away is just bliss.
After my refreshing nap we head out to do the Omori-Pukawa walk. It goes through some gorgeous forest, tall trees that reach for the sky, creating dappled light on the forest floor. Vines are draped amongst the trees, the forest has an ancient feel to it. Further on we come across wild blackberries and spend some time picking them for Lachie and Lily. We also meet a little piwakawaka who dances around us, fanning it’s tail and chattering away.
After our walk it’s swimming time. There are a lot of people down at the lake, its a popular place to swim. I am unsure about going in, I imagine it could be quite cold. Its quite deep, it gets to a depth of 186 meters and is also the largest fresh water lake in the southern hemisphere, roughly the size of Singapore! So that’s a lot of water that needs heating from the sun! I decide to brave it, I have a Gopro and I want to swim out to the pontoon and film myself jumping in.
I make my way into the water. Dad, James (my brother) and Lachie are already in the water and Lachie is getting thrown through the air in a chorus of laughter and giggles.
The water feels cold, but everyone else is in so I need to be brave. Getting in is always the hard part, but once I am, it is incredible. I wouldn’t even call it ‘refreshing’ because it wasn’t cold at all. I swim out to the pontoon, it’s further than I thought. I can swim, but I am not a strong swimmer and find by the time I get to the pontoon I am quite tired. As I have swum out there, jumping in is easy – I am already wet. And I get some great photos!
The water was absolutely gorgeous and I hope I get to have another swim while we are here. I have a bit of an irrational fear of being attached by a shark and this always plays in my mind when I am swimming, but in a lake, no worries! The perfect place for me to take a dip.
We finish off the day with a dip in the spa and have an incredible encounter. A kereru (very overweight wood pigeon) clumsily lands on a branch that looks way to thin to support its huge body only a few meters from us. It flies off after a couple of minutes but then returns, landing even closer on a post, about 3 meters from us. It then comes even closer, perching on the edge of the spa pool. I am no more than 1.5 meters from it. It was spectacular. Lachie and I sit in the spa, marveling at this beautiful bird, admiring the colours in its feathers, iridescent blues and greens and noticing how big it’s claws are. I have never seen a kereru this close up before. It is a really special experience. I love being perched up in the trees with the birds. I only wish I had had my camera on me!