Gill South gets in the hot seat at Waiwera Infinity Spa - purely for the good of her health.
Hmm, let me think, will I fold a pile of washing that comes up to my chin, or will I go to a spa with a girlfriend this Saturday afternoon?
Yup, not much of a contest really. She pulls up in front of my house and we're out of there like Thelma and Louise without the cowboy boots and a lamentable lack of Brad Pitt on the route up. We arrive at the Waiwera Infinity Spa Thermal Resort, which you access through the normal Waiwera pool entrance. Inside, the noise of the pools are left completely behind.
I must stress this is not going to be all about indulgence. My Total Body Recovery treatment involves a "high tech health" detox box. This has us sitting in a very small wooden box, made of Russian Spruce apparently. It is really the width of a double seat in a railway carriage. The box uses something called Far Infrared Rays that detoxify the body of long accumulated toxins and heavy metals. Maybe I won't have mercury in my blood any more. It is also useful for clearing any cellulite, improving skin tone and energising the body while relaxing the mind.
My mind's not too relaxed during the process. We get in and it's warm, feels like 30 degrees in the sun, then it gets warmer the longer we sit there. Because it's not steamy, I don't have that suffocating feeling I get when I'm in a sauna but I am way out of my comfort zone.
My ideal temperature is between 17 and 24 degrees Celsius. The heat we are feeling is what they call "a very comfortable level of around 40-50 degrees". Comfortable! I don't think so. But Thelma keeps me talking and I stick it out, just. If it weren't for her, I'd have high-tailed it out of there after the first five minutes.
My reward is a session in a beautiful big spa bath, glugging back bottles of beautiful Waiwera water. We keep the conversation highbrow. It's election day so we bat around some of the issues amicably, though we're on different sides of the fence this time around.
Next I'm having a therapeutic massage with Roger. Now I'm not thrilled on having a man give me a massage, but I like one with a bit of oomph and sometimes beauticians just don't do it for me. I suss Roger out quickly, giving him the third degree just to make sure he has the right motives for being a massage therapist, if you know what I mean. And he passes with flying colours. Turns out this devoted grandfather, with two daughters, used to be vineyard manager at one of my favourite wineries, Kumeu River. He's now a massage therapist not only for Waiwera Infinity Spa but also looks after sports teams when they come to Auckland.
Roger gives me an excellent therapeutic massage, working on my usual problem spots of neck, shoulders and head.
Therapeutic massage as opposed to a Swedish massage, which Thelma is having, is more about working on certain key areas. Roger's good at telling me what he's going to do next which sets me at ease.
And when we are done, our therapists brings us a tea as we recline on daybeds in the relaxation room. Oh yes, well worth a pile of washing waiting for me at home.
The mad social whirl that is December, a family visit and a constant lurking hangover, I think I have no option but to indulge in an Indian head massage just so as I can keep things together til Christmas lunch.By Gill South Email Gill