Legends of the Lake

New Zealand is full of movie worthy scenery. No wonder so many movies have been filmed here. It’s beautiful and today we saw a few of these scenes.

The Parkers headed off early to get to the Blue Lake in time for warm ups and briefing before David did the 3.5 km Swim.

We went to breakfast at Cafe de Paris and once inside felt we could have been in Paris. Well almost, if it weren’t for the NZ accents everywhere. But the lady running the place, Yvette, hails from Pau in the south where my friend Carmel is spending some of her holidays right now.

The menu had freshly made galettes and I had a bacon and egg one which happily married the French and Aussie tastes together. It was delicious.

We were soon on the streets of Rotorua searching for bananas to eat before the Swim. I’ve learned from Swim trek that a banana before a Swim will keep your energy levels up and the cramping away. Let’s hope it works.

We had time to stop at Whakarewarewa – try saying that out loud. And remember the WH sounds like an F! It is the Maori Living Village. So people live and work in this village which has been set up around the flowing thermal streams and geysers. I last visited here in 1972 with an assortment of relatives and it has changed quite a bit. Straight away I recognised the overpowering smell of sulphur gases. How people live here I don’t know.

Greeting us at the entrance, under the bridge, were three sizeable young boys who were in the creek below calling out ‘throw us some coins Miss, we’ll dive for them!’ Such entertainment. We couldn’t not join in and before long we were tossing them coins and cheering their retrieval.

Walking through the little streets past the homes that still house people, we noticed the burial grounds in and around the houses and the mist of the gases filling the air. The smoke was very thick in some places and you certainly would not want to go into some of the lakes and water holes. It was boiling and bubbling. The smoke was thick and I was getting a free steam facial – something I would regret later!

Back in the car we headed to the Blue Lake driving through a heavily forested area. The Blue Lake is only about 5 km around and because of its make up appears very Blue – yet next to it there is Green Lake. The Blue Lake is is used for waterskiing and there are terraced steps for people to view the action. Very handy for spectators.

The set up for the Swim was great , so professionally run much, better than Steve’s Swim in HK where he went missing and no one seemed to notice!

David came in just after we arrived and he was smiling and feeling fit. He was followed by Nicky, a friend of theirs who had her leg amputated only 4 months ago. What an amazing women. She lost her leg above the knee because of a tumour and she has been back in the water training from about 6 weeks after the amputation.

Finally it was time for me to get into the wet suit. What a struggle. Chris had decided he would do the Swim – the cold was ok and it looked so lovely. So we went for a warm up swim then had the briefing. All was good. I felt great.

A few minutes later and off we went. The adrenaline was kicking in and I got a good start. Chris took off and left me in his wake. After a few minutes I started to feel my breathing struggle. I kept on. I stopped again. I couldn’t breathe properly. I was wheezing and starting to struggle. Two lovely ladies stopped and asked if I was ok and offered to swim with me. But after a while I knew I couldn’t , so I met Billie. He was a lovely young lifesaver on a paddle board. I told him my problem and he offered to paddle me back. I stayed in the water, hung on to the back of his board and and made it back. I was weak and struggling to breathe. A complete mystery.

After some discussion it was suggested that some people have a reaction to sulphur gases. I think I was one of them.

Such disappointment. I felt silly. But I knew I couldn’t complete it.

Fortunately Kim had a puffer and after a few puffs I was relieved a little. Chris Wilson defended his gold medal from last year. He did a very good 18 min for the 1km. Great swimming Chris.

After the celebrations we took off for a drive to the Green Lake and Lake Tarawera.

Back into Rotorua and a walk through the Government parks before dinner at the Garden Kitchen. The gardens have a magnificent set of entrance gates. They look like metal but are actually timber.

What a great place for dinner. The Parkers daughter Alysa and her husband Adam have just moved to Rotorua so they joined us for dinner. Beautiful dinner and great cocktails.

There was a free concert in the park opposite the restaurant. As we left to walk home the fireworks started – then stopped – then started again. Thanks Kim & David for the great fireworks!

5 thoughts on “Legends of the Lake

  1. Hi Fran. Sounds like lots of fun. We love NZ and are travelling back again March/April. This time we are cruising up the east coast after cruising from Sydney to Hobart to Milford Sound; and looking forward to stopping in at the various ports along the way.


  2. Hi Fran
    Sorry the swim didn’t go according to plan, but it sounds like you’ve had a wonderful time- after all the swim is only an excuse for more travel. I’m almost tempted to take up swimming!


  3. Disappointing for you Fran but fortunately something that you overcame quickly – I like Liz’s philosophical approach!
    Congratulations to Chris, he would have been very happy he could compete.


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