Taupo touts itself as the Events Capital of New Zealand. And indeed, between the International Ironman, the 160km Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge, the Oxfam Trailwalker in April and assorted mountain bike and kayak challenges, swims and half marathons it does seem that Lake Taupo is not only very large, but very eventful.
We headed down to Taupo for the Mizuno Off-Road Half-Marathon in September. It was a gloriously sunny weekend and a stunning trail. The 21.1km course went up the W2K walking and mountain-bike trail from Kinloch, rising through bush and birdsong to take in superb views across the lake to the snowy peaks of Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe. Amber and I completed the course, along with 700 other competitors, and very fine it was. However, the next day I was reduced to an embarrassing hobble and my hips no longer seemed to work. Climbing the stairs at the bach involved a double-handed hauling up the banisters. It was clearly time for the hot pools.
Taupo DeBretts Spa Resort includes hot mineral pools, a water playground and the Living Waters Spa. While the kind fathers took charge of our children, Amber and I booked into the spa. Once through the glass doors we entered a realm of relaxation and white robes. All the spa treatments include entry to the hot pools and they recommend a 30-minute soak before your treatment.
The silica-rich waters act as an exfoliant and soften the skin in preparation for skincare therapy, they say. The heat and hydrotherapy features of the water relax the muscles and allow for deeper work during therapeutic massage. Even better. So we joined our families briefly and floated about in the soothingly hot water, buffeted by bubbles, looking up at blue skies and flowering cherry. Back in our white robes we swanned along to our 45-minute Earthly Wrap. The therapy rooms were dimly lit and restful, and it was very relaxing lying on the warm, towel-swaddled bench, listening to slow and exotic violins. So relaxing I lost the power of speech.
The Earthly Wrap is a firming and detoxing full-body clay wrap. This meant I lay face down blissfully while my therapist Jess slowly brushed the Living Nature clay treatment across my back and down my legs. While your skin absorbs the 77 natural ingredients, you receive a foot massage with essential oils. My skin wasn’t counting, but it liked the feeling.
After the foot massage Jess moved up to massage my weary legs and this was very, very good. The shoulder and neck massage was equally good. Having seen the half-marathon in my notes Jess may have been particularly attentive to the aching muscles – and they were grateful. She finished with a head massage and then left me to get up in my own time. And behold, when I did get up, I was not only blissfully relaxed, I could walk again! More or less.
The Living Waters Spa is part of the hot pools resort complex, so do not expect to be miles away from humanity, surrounded by mountains, moss and orchids. Just through the glass doors, our families were besporting themselves in the pools. It’s ideal if you want some pampering while the children enjoy and exhaust themselves in the many pools, the warm water interactive playground and a rather thrilling-looking dragon slide. There is a giant chess board, soft grass and flowering trees, picnic spots and BBQs to boot. You could also wander up the hill to the Terraces Hotel for coffee or lunch.