3 days before our flights to New Zealand, Avalon sprained her ankle trampolining. It’s made the trip so far annoying for her, and for us. She’s in pain for starters (her ankle has turned a pleasant shade of violet), and she’s had to hobble about on a pair of old crutches I found at a council pick up a few years back (they’re even stamped “made in NSW”…true antiques!) For us, it’s meant an extra suitcase to drag, extra backpack to carry, and Milana has lost her partner in crime for any activity involving running, swimming, or moving faster than Franz Josef Glacier. “Trampolining maaaan”, noted a dreadlocked American stoner in the Hanmer Springs Four Square General Store, “it can be the best time of your life, it can be the worst time of your life.” Indeed.
The injury has meant what we THOUGHT was going to happen at Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools, couldn’t. Milana had to go it alone on the 3 waterslides, and had a blast. One in darkness, one in light, and the third in a giant inner tube that spun around inside a “Super Bowl” before spitting her out the bottom.
Avalon hung with us melting into the heavy, hot (36-42 degree) mineral-laden pools. Blissful.
Farmer William Jones came across the geothermal springs in 1859, and modest bathing facilities were set up in 1885. I’m guessing patrons back then hadn’t travelled from France, Sweden, Russia, Japan (and Australia) to take in the waters. Each sulphur, aquatherapy and hexagonal pool, set against forested mountains, was a feast of foreign accents.
We are camped just near the Hanmer Forest, a mix of native and introduced alpine trees buzzing with chubby bumble bees. Many international plants were introduced to the parklands in the early 1900’s, which explains its New Zealand meets Austria/Switzerland feel. Spruce, pine, larch, fir and beech trees hide mountain bike and walking tracks, rambling streams, and hideous little sand flies…not the big bitey ones we’d find on the beaches of Australia, but tiny bitey ones that look like harmless bugs we’d have flying around ripening fruit. They attack, draw blood, and most of the travellers I’ve seen have itchy marks all over their ankles.
Bites aside, it was a lovely spot to camp. Tomorrow, a trek to the West Coast…