Hot water beach

Trip Start Aug 18, 2008
Trip End Aug 17, 2009

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Thursday, April 23, 2009

After leaving Rotorua we  went to Taupo. We stopped at Hukka Falls which are a set of waterfalls on the Waikato river that drains lake Taupo. It's made just watching the water because it flows so fast, 220, 000 litres per second! That's an olympic swimming pools in under thirteen seconds!
We stayed in Taupo for a few days but didn't do a lot. Along the lakeshore is an unusual game
of golf! Basically you have to try and get the ball in the hole but the green is floating in the lake. We both attempted and failed but John got very close to hitting one of the scuba divers that's
employed to collect the balls that miss the target.

We stopped along our way to Wellington to take photos of “Mount Doom” from Lord of the Rings.

When we got to Wellington, the first place we were shown was the view of Wellington. Personally I wasn't overly impressed by it but I have been spoilt having seen Hong Kong all light up at night. What I did like about the area was the information on how Wellington was formed.
The Polynesian god Maui fished from his waka (canoe). The waka is the south island, the prow
is the Marlborough Sounds. He caught an enormous fish, the north island. If you look at a map of New Zealand you can still see the jawbones of the head of the fish. The head of the fish belongs on the Australian Plate which is being buckled up as the Pacific Plate is dragged below it. The Maori legend says that the mountains were formed by the fish in the brothers hurry to divide the fish.

We spent a few days in Wellington where we met people that John had worked with, so that
involved a few nights out. We went for a few drinks in the only Welsh pub in the Southern Hemisphere. It's a small pub that was originally a public toilet for people who used the trams. It was then a restaurant (bit of a transformation) and then turned into a pub. They play on the fact that it used to be a public toilet with their motto “come in for a leek”.

We also randomly met a couple from Sweden (Patrick and Sandra) that we had met when we were in Oamaru to see the penguins. Unfortunately they were leaving Wellington the following morning. We went to watch a rugby game while we were there. The local team, the hurricanes were playing against the Cape Town Stormers in the super fourteens league. The game itself
was a bit boring, there was no atmosphere in the stadium. Some of the players are just massive! If they were standing beside the Irish team they would make them look like dwarfs. The best part was probably whenever the home team scored, balls of fire shot out from cannisters at the side of the pitch. During half time they do this thing where the big screens show images of people kissing then it goes to the crowd. If the camera stops on you, you have to kiss the person next to you.....even if it is not the person you went to the game. The camera stayed on two people who weren't together until they kissed. Some people get really into it and go all out for the camera.

The day we left Wellington it was raining. Whenever it rains and I'm asleep I always think that I am at home and dream that I am at home, so when my alarm went off I thought I was getting up for work! So it wasn't bad to wake up in New Zealand even if the weather wasn't great!

On our way to Napier we stopped at Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre where we saw some Kiwi birds. When we paid the entrance fee we hadn't realised that the birds are nocturnal so when we got into the room they were in we couldn't use a flash on our cameras so not a single photo of them came out! The Kiwi bird looks a bit like it has a giant easter egg for a body and a smaller egg for its head. I has a really long beak! There are five different Kiwi species all of which are endangered. They are the only bird that have it's nostrils at the end of their long beak. The Kiwi
lays the biggest egg in proportion to its size of any bird in the world, so even though the Kiwi is about the size of a domestic chicken, it is able to lay eggs that are about six times the size of
a chicken's egg!
We spent one night in Napier. Unfortunately the rain never left us and turned into torrential rain so we didn't get to take a single photo of the place which is a pity because I was looking forward to our day in Napier. Our bus driver gave us a little tour of the town pointing out things to us including the statue of Pania of the Reef. It is treated the same as the “Little Mermaid” is in Copenhagen so when it was stolen in 2005 people weren't happy but it was found after a week.
On 3rd of February in 1931 Napier was levelled by an earthquake. The collapses and ensuing fires killed 258 people. The town centre was destroyed and rebuilt in the popular Art Deco style of the time. So every year thousands of people travel to Napier in February for the Art Deco Weekend event - a celebration of Napier's Art Deco heritage and history.

Thankfully the next morning when we were leaving Napier the weather was fine. As the bus
that we travel on only goes to some places on certain days we only had one night for Napier or we would end up missing places that we wanted to go to.

On our way to Mount Maunganui we picked up a few passengers, two of whom were Patrick and
Sandra. When we got to Mount Maunganui it was almost winter but in the summer time it is one of the most popular destinations to visit in New Zealand. Some of the caravan parks are booked up two years in advance for Christmas. It's easy to see why, the beach is lovely with nice soft sand. I collected a few nice shells on our walks on the beach. We got a bit of sunshine when we were there which helped us enjoy our stay.

There is a summit in Mount Maunganui which if you walk to the top of it gives you a really
nice view of the town. The day we walked / climbed it, it had started off as a cool day so we were nice and warm in our hoodys and tracksuit bottoms, unfortunately for us the sun came out and it was roasting! I love the sun but trying to climb uphill in dark clothing when it's hot is just torture! I was thankful for the two bottles of water that we brought with us! When we got to the top it was worth the climb. The view of the sea, beach and some small islands was really nice. We could even see the bath that we were going to relax in after our hike was over.

The bath house was full of kids, mostly with their grandparents, presumably because they were
on their school holidays. There were several swimming pools and jacuzzis to just relax in which suited us fine. We managed to go to the cinema while we were there. We don't get to go that often while we are travelling but it's something that we both love doing when we are at home so if we get the chance to go we try to take it.

When we left Mount Maunganui we went to Whitianga. It is further north and so the weather was not as nice. It was quite cold and torrential rain was forecast for the next few days. We only stayed for one night because the things we wanted to do were stops included on the way to
Whitianga and not actually in Whitianga. Not a lot of people take the option to go to Whitianga so everyone that was going were brought on the main coach and stopped off in Thames to get a connecting mini bus there. Due to someone messing up, our mini bus only seated 18 people
and there was over 20 people supposed to get it. The way the magic bus works is you tell your driver your next stop and how long you intend staying there. The driver tells the main office and you are booked on the bus. So even though everyone had put their name on the sheet to say they were going, a few names were not on the official sheet and given to the mini bus driver. A few people were sent on local bus to Whitianga which doesn't stop at the main attractions
along the way.

Everyone was crammed into the tiny bus. The back of the bus has a small compartment for our
luggage and even though everyone ended up with a seat there was not enough room for our bags. It was up to the passengers to get their bags into the luggage compartment so poor John had his hands full trying to get our rucksacks in. He ended up wedging them in, they were on the very top. We ended up with bit of a maze on the bus to get to your seat. There was suitcases down the aisle of the bus between the seats and some rucksacks at the step beside the door. This made it fun to get in and out of the bus!

Our first of two stops
was hot water beach. There is a geothermal area within the beach, you
need to dig into the sand and either hot water or cold water will
fill the hole. It was a cold day so no one on our bus was brave
enough to strip down to swim wear. We had to walk across a stream
heading into the sea to get to the geothermal area, the stream was
ice cold. There was already a crowd of people that had found the nice
hot spots in the beach. There was two shovels in our bus so two lads
started digging but it was very hit and miss. We were two steps away
from a hot area that people had already claimed and decided to dig
but the water was freezing! We did eventually find some hot water of
our own but it was so hot that it burnt our feet! It was really one
extreme to another! We couldn't find a happy balance so just stood in
holes that other people had dug and left. There was a lot of people
who were in swimming shorts or bikinis just lying in the holes,
building sand walls to stop the cold tide from the sea getting in.

After hot water beach it was back on the bus for half an hour before we stopped at cathedral cove. Cathedral cove is basically a cove that waves have eroded into and formed what looks like a cathedral style ceiling. To get to cathedral cove you have to walk down a series of steps or you can go on a kayaking tour to it. As the weather was bad all water activities were stopped so we walked down the many many steps and finally made it down to the small beach and cathedral cove.

With the mix up of the size of bus that was sent to bring people to Whitianga, although we
were brought there, there was not enough seats on the bus to leave. We along with a few other people were told we had to get the local bus back to Auckland. This turned out to be a lot of hassle. We got a local mini bus back to Thames, I had slept on the bus the last time
we did the journey so I hadn't noticed how twisty and turny it was. When we got to Thames we had to wait two hours for a connecting bus to bring us to Auckland. We weren't waiting at a bus station it was just outside a coffee shop which was closed because it was Anzac day.
So we were outside in the cold with a bit of shelter over our heads and managed to sit on one of the two benches. After a few hours of reading and waiting and then reading on the bus we got to Auckland where our journey continued on to Paihai.

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