Gathan Beaga

the jungle house

I’m still recovering from yesterday.

Friends have a bach at Otaki: actually a house perched on the side of a hill of regenerating bush up at Otaki forks. Cool!

So I told the girls it was a “jungle house”, and they asked if there were any monkeys there. Yep, I thought, there will be by the time we get there.

Later, I found out that the house was 20 minutes walk from the road along a 4wd track. Well OK, I can do that.

Of course, when we got there yesterday this actually meant us carrying our gear up plus the smaller of the tired children. It was the hottest day of the summer so far and we had more or less melted by the time we reached sanctuary from the sun. But we didn’t mind.

Otaki cabin viewBecause here we were. The river, from which we’d walked, through a gap in the ridges; the latter covered in punga and nikau and the occasional kahikatea missed by the loggers years ago.

We sat on the deck with our hosts, Charles, Michelle and the boys, and a couple of their intrepid cycling friends, and scarfed a picnic style lunch from the sort of ricketty folding table familiar to anyone whose been on a family camping trip. It was utterly fantastic.

Afterwards we rested and and let the kids rampage at will.

Much much later it was time for us all to walk down the hill. The river beckoned, and Charles and the boys showed us their “secret pools” in a tributary creek. The water was cool, not too cold: and it was inevitable that we adults should also hop in. Naturally bathing in one’s underpants does not lead to picturesque Flickr-friendly visuals, so I have declined to share these on a basis of taste.

It had been a long time since R. and I had bathed in a mountain stream (the last time being another memorably hot day up the Timaru Creek, pre-kids of course, clad only in walking boots – photos also unavailable) and it was brilliant.

It was obvious we were in the mountains when the first few spits of rain started falling. “”">Orographic precipitation", Michelle said. It was making us wet, too. We four made it back to the car, leaving our hosts to walk back up their house in the warm rain. Sorry!

And as you might have guessed, the rain was very local and it stayed behind us in the mountains as we re-entered the hot late afternoon on the drive home.

It was very late, by the kids’ measure, when we got home, in a velvet smooth windless warm gloaming. Skins glowing with the sun’s afterimage; aching, and spent.

Summer, for now.