Tuesday, November 26, 2013

In the day's before a Facebook party gets out of hand - yeah right ^^

Tuesday, November 26, 2013
oldbearnews editor
Picture this
A looooooooooooong time ago (indeed a very very long time ago) a handsome young prince charming set out into a new world and finds his lovely princess. They kiss, get married and
W A I I I I T - before the children arrive, they have some fun. Naturally!! And why would you not?  As part of said fun they hosted another Austrian traveller for some 6 months. While this young chap did NOT find his princess here (sadly), he did have a great time! One of the things we did was to travel around a bit with via an old fashioned Olds-mobile (a Toyota something rather), showing him some of the more exotic sights (and the land) ^^ (ok we did consider the old horse-carriage - but that was taking the image a tad to far)
Anyhow - Mid winter we decided to take said Austrian fella up to the grand metropolitan area of Hamner.  Hamner's claim for fame are the hot pools. These are underground fed and the water comes out of the ground at a balmy 46 degrees - so needs to be cooled down a bit before it is let loose in the various pools. The other major thing is the forestry plantation present, which offers plenty of opportunity for stoll's through the meadow / cycling / hill walking / golf / ahhh you get the picture - it is an outdoor paradise


The first known European discovery of the thermal springs was in April 1859 by William Jones, a farm manager from Culverden, who was drawn to what appeared to be "a remarkable fog". Early commercial development was hindered because of inaccessibility. It didn't help that the first Ferry Bridge blew down in a strong nor'wester and wasn't replaced until 1874. In 1879 an iron bathing shed was set up on the site and a manager appointed to run the primitive operation.
Bathing in the springs was nude. A pair of trousers or skirt hoisted on a pole indicated which gender had rights to the pool at a particular time. In 1881 the government reserved 2560 acres around the hot springs and began to invest in baths and enclosures and segregated bathing took place. Today, mixed bathing with appropriate bathing costumes being worn has become acceptable (mind you - the so called bathing costumes these days are so skimpy, they may as well be Au-natural ^.- ), and the complex has been developed into a world-class tourist facility. 
Here endeth the history lesson (almost)
So anyhow - said Viennese lad needed an education in the finer points of this lovely land and so we offered to take him up there for a short weekend; short being Friday night to Sunday sometime - and this during winter time.
So we hot footed up there in the wannbe boy-racer car and bunked down for the night. I cannot remember - and I am sure mamabear will tell me so - but an invite went out to the young adults of our church - something along the lines of "Anyone free to come and visit will be most welcome - byo everything - food / togs / towels etc etc".  What was she thinking?? (possibly  worried with TWO Austrians in her company what might happen to her repudiation?) So sure enough at least one carload arrived Saturday morning.  What is one supposed to do??
Go for a swim of course!!  Said Austrian fella was urm seen here gingerly entering the water. (Can you spot him?)  It was snowing, so outside temperature was hovering around just below zero and the water temperature is (for this pool) 38 degrees. So at the bottom you get cooked and up-top - ah you get the picture.  All the ladies were wise enough to cover themselves up to the shoulder.  I should warn you those days it was still like - wearing speedo's or the more commonly known budgie-smugglers togs was accepted! 
Anyhow  eventually the lad made it all the way into the warmish water and started enjoying himself!!

This of course had to be urm memorialized - so out came the cameras!! Love the classic prose and technique of how NOT to take a picture - or was that a new Yoga technique explored?!?!  Amazingly the photos turned out ok even though the gals decided not be a swimsuit model (an opportunity missed here!! ^^)

Guess after a swim, lunch is the order and here is a strong Austrian - Kiwi connection!
On the right the gal' who started it all (by visiting Austria) and the gal' on the left who nearly broke Oma's heart by snaffling a Austrian lad, and in the middle (no not a rose - or thorn or pig) the urm more sensible fella who came for a short stay and went back home, but as they say - left his heart here!!! Anyway lunch was soon consumed by the hungry hordes and then of course we had to "walk of" the pounds gained - so we went up the traditional walk of - yes up Conical hill. The hill itself is more or less conical and has undergone a transformation many times.  Originally it would have been native NZ (red) Beech or Birch trees (probably the former) but then they got logged as it provided excellent building timber for the urm modest bathers - not to mention the hotel and bar and wash-house etc.  So yes in the snow - we climbed said hill - ah fresh air - snow - it was good.  Nowadays it is covered with Fir trees - mostly Oregon and Spruce - but I am pleased to say that the Natives (plants that is) are making a comeback. Indeed a decent stand of Manuka was seen as well as the odd growing red beech and a few other greenly thingies!  In the picture to the left - note the start of the hill climb (going straight up) - this is now a road and on each side of it there are dozens of houses!! The building on the right is the Hamner Lodge - a slightly upmarket hotel and original staying point for any visitor.  There used to be nothing else there for a while and in those days it was horseback / carriage only accessible!  Well I climbed that hill many a times - keeps you fit!! At the top is this lookout - which in those days you could actually LOOK OUT - but nowadays the trees there have grown - guess the firs are now more then 25 years young - and yeah you could see the whole Hamner town!! = and yes still it snowed!!
Next up - back to the resting place which got converted into a feeding station! Can't remember what we cooked - but we sure fed the tribe! Because of the snow they decided to stay for dinner (a thin excuse we thought) which was eventually served after 9pm or so. In order to NOT get bored they watched the only DECENT film on the two channels available at the time - "The Sound of Music"!!!! Which is quite funny as both Austrian males present had never ever seen said film before - so we got indoctrinated! Lots of singing went on by the Kiwis, while we slaved away in the kitchen.  After duly feeding the hordes and with snowing having stopped, the gate-crashers decided to risk it and drive back to Christchurch - a near 2 hour trip in those days!
Lol - Next morning - after only 4-5 hours of sleep or so - 3 of us got awaken by the church next door who has a rather insistent loud bell! Oh and there is the Village fire-alarm that went of at some ungodly hour as well!

What has Facebook got to do with this??  This all took place in 1988 -  PC time or as we call it Pre-Computer time.  Word of mouth can and did travel just as fast back then as it is now. Only difference is that now you can reach a larger audience quicker and instead of being gate-crashed by 5-10 people it is often by 100 or more. Not that we minded the 5 that did turn up! We had a blast and the Austrian lad still remembers the barefoot quickstep (or did he waltz??) from the changing shed to the pools (a paltry 5 meters from door to water!!).

Best part - this year there is a re-union of sorts of same event happening! Wonder who will gate-crash this time? ? ?    Wait - checks itinerary - pheeew - not staying overnight - just a flying visit in-and-out on the day!!

Meremaid - next time you are here, we will most definitely stay a night and you can also experience the delights of hot and cold and . . . . . gentle rolling hill climbs and oh yeah the urm fortitude required to face up to this challenge (I bring the bottle)

Have fun
 bear print

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