Dig your own hot spa...on the beach

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
Dickey’s Flat

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Friday, October 8, 2010

After a fried egg butty we were on our way by 9am. It was time to explore some of Auckland's Volcanic field. We started off by heading over to Mount Eden, Auckland’s highest cone (volcano) which stands 196 metres high.  The views were fantastic and we got a full 360 degree view of the city and beyond.  It was amazing to see all of the other cones from up high too. We had a nice leisurely walk around the crater rim to start the day.  We then headed over to Cornwall Park to see One Tree Hill which was the site of the greatest fortress in the country and the most famous sight in Auckland. This famous 'pa’ had a population of 5000 people and has a large monument at the top dedicated to the Maori people.  Again the views were fantastic but we were lazy and drove up to the summit instead of walking – shame on us.

We headed briefly back to Wicked to pick up more vouchers for the expensive campsites as it makes the cost comparable with the national parks  but with hot showers, kitchens and bins etc. A definite bargain and lady E came up with the goods.

We then headed on our way Eastbound to the Coromandel region and towards the famous ‘Hot Water Beach’ in an aim to try and get there at low tide.  Essentially you hire a spade and dig a hole in the sand until you find thermal springs. Thankfully we bumped into the two Americans from a few nights ago who had a spade already so as they left we arrived and exchanged a promise to return the spade and meet them at Cathedral Cove, a bit further north in an hour or so.

So we headed off across the beach fully equipped to try and find a hot spring with a warning from the guys to try and find somewhere where the water was not too hot. It all seemed a little surreal really. We (I) started digging and soon hit the warm water. Some of the pools were so hot you couldn’t even walk in the water almost scalding yourself which was pretty god damn weird considering the sea was only about 30m away. Although warm it wasn’t hot but we soon realised that by digging an irrigation channel to lower the water level the water was nice and warm. It was so surreal to keep having to scoop out hot sand and through over the edge of our hole. It was really nice but our hour soon passed and it was time to head over to Cathedral Cove and hand back the spade. We found the other guys’ van and headed down the path to the Cove.  Erica Edit:  I absolutely bloody loved Hot Water Beach it was such a great way to spend an hour and such a novel experience – I’ve heard there is a similar beach on the West coast so I might invest in a spade or just get the Americans to follow us there with theirs.

Cathedral cove was lovely, we walked through the cave to the beach beyond (even though you are told not to) and Erica informs me that it is on every tour agenda. I couldn’t help but think that the thermal sands were more of a highlight. After a brief phone call to some fishing trip operators at the Bay of Plenty to find the weather was too rough for tomorrow and the current fish being caught weren’t huge it made an easy decision to head to Rotorua and maybe use another 2 for the price of 1 camping voucher. We then embarked upon one of New Zealand’s best short drives, to see Karangahake Gorge were we were to find our first proper free camp of New Zealand a DOC campsite with no amenities (only toilets). It really has been a bit devastating to find out that Australia has much more to offer a budget traveller in terms of free camping than NZ. The Gorge was lovely and definitely worth the short 21km drive to see it.  We would have liked to have done a walk here too but daylight was against us.

We eventually found the free site Department of Conservation (DOC), Dickey’s Flat ,that we were looking for to find a few other vans and a load of tents for a school outing after the kids at the holiday parks at least these guys had the space to go away from us so we had a bit of peace and quiet. At about 9pm however as I finish writing the blog off today a group of about 6 cars of NZ youths, stereos blazing turned up throwing glass bottles around the place (probably alco pops) and despite there being some composting toilets thought it better to piss on the wheels of the school vans. Our conversation was short but pleasant, they wanted to know if I could get porn on the laptop and if people in Manchester smoked as much weed as in New Zealand, I suppose the answer is probably yes but it isn’t really a serious conversation started with the mid thirties posse, I now call us. It’s a sad fact of growing old we probably had more in common with the couple in their 60’s about 3 vans down who were amazed we were cooking a Thai red curry for tea.
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