I swam with seals!!!

Trip Start Jun 17, 2010
Trip End Jun 12, 2011

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Well it takes me about 2 hours to actually get out of Auckland - there isn't any sign post clear saying "Nic drive this way" so I get lost  and have to ask for help, and I find I'm not that far off the track, so I hit the road, and have a long drive.  I find myself on another unsealed road, going to the top of the peninsular to Fletcher bay. The weather is pretty crap, which I was warned about, but I couldn't realty stall my trip, as I had now booked my Oz flight on the 7th.  I hitch up to the backpackers - right at lands end, nothing happens here, no shops, only a handful of people, pure relaxation by the beach, if only the weather was better!!! I have a look around the bay, nice and secluded, and retire to my cabin, I'm the only one in it, 4 rooms, 16 beds, and I'm the only one!  I chill out with my music and a good dinner and a few beers, it was nice just to have a bit of chill time.  the next morning I get up to do the hour and half car journey back to a sealed road on the main highway - my next stop being Hahei.

Hahei was my favorite place in the Peninsular, I stayed in another nice little quite backpackers, which had a German family staying, and it surprised me to hear the 6 year old child talking English to me!  The two attractions here are Cathedral Cove and Hot water beach.  The weather was still a little crap, but I decided to take the hike to Cathedral cove, as I had to be moving on again the next morning.  Thankfully the weather holds out, just no sun! - the walk was a good 2 hours return up and down a hill, and exploring little coves, which had secluded beaches.  I reach Cathedral Cove, and find about 15 other people there also taking a look, the reason its popular is a hole in the rock basically joining 2 coves together, unfortunately due to rock fall, you couldn't walk between the two coves, and it was sealed off, the beach was nice and tranquil though, which also had a little waterfall due to all the rainfall that had sprang up.  The other touristy thing to do was to visit hot water beach at low tide, which was at 18.40 that evening.  I get there with my spade in hand ready to dig myself out a little hole to sit in, while hot water seeps in through the sand - when I get there, there are already loads of holes dug up in the sand, so I get into one already dug, and burn my foot! The water really is hot! - it just seeps through the sand, its quite strange really, and you can dig pools out at differing temperatures, its just like going to a spa! - the sun sets while the waves crash in the background, and then the tide starts to come in, and washes all of the pools away, ready for the next day!  It was one of the best things I have experienced, so natural and unusual, though I'm sure if the government could charge for it, they would!  That night I decided to try the beer I had kept that was brewed for LOTR, it was cold, but tasted like water! with only a slight hops taste, ah well, the novelty was worth it!

The next morning I take another long drive to Mt Maunganui.  The scenery along the way has been amazing, and if I could have spent a few months more traveling I would have defiantly spent more time on the Nice beaches around.
Of course in Mt Maunganui there is a mountain which I climb nearing sunset,  the views were amazing over the sea, it took about an hour to get to the top, with some very steep climbs, many of the locals used the mountain as part of their fitness regime - madness - it was enough walking it let alone running up it - I get quite a few good pics, and have a quiet night in the hostel.
  The next day I take another dolphin boat trip, in the hope of swimming with them.  Me and and Anne a German girl from my hostel where the only ones on the tour, which said alot about they guy doing the tour, he has been sailing in the bay of plenty for 25 years, and loves it, its not all about making money for him, he just enjoyed it, so we set out on his sail boat at 8.30, with the sun shining and the wind bitterly cold!  We get all the way to our little lunch stop, and don't see anything, and the bay of plenty is supposed to be the place to see it all!  Though in our little island stop, we spot some seals swimming and diving around, so with a bit of persuading, me and Anne get on our wetsuits and go out to swim with the seals.  it was amazing.  The seals didn't mind us being there at all, after a while they were playing, swimming underneath us, and spinning in the water.  Or sometimes they just hung up side down in the water, looking at us with their big eyes, they got really close to us, well within touching distance, but I kept my hands to myself! there was about 12 of them, and when it  came to going back to the boat, 2 of the seals swam back with us, which was great, just like they were saying goodbye, or wanting us to go back and play!  The guy on the boat said that swimming with seals is usually much better than swimming with dolphins as they are more playful.  We set off again, on our way back to our starting point, when we spot a blue whale (the biggest mammal in the world), which again was amazing, it was huge!! He was quite shy, as we only got to see him about 3 times, and he would just appear randomly, not looking as if he was going in any particular direction.  We spotted him because of the spray he blew off, and I managed to get a few pics.  Further along the way, I spot another whale, so we set off in that direction, and this time it was a pacific blue whale, who we managed to see a bit more of, again he was huge, and he would often spring up in random places too, so was difficult to photograph.  we spent alot of time chasing the whales, and we actually don't get back to the harbor until 20.00 - 4 hours later than when we were supposed to be back, which again made me think that he didn't care about times and money, he wanted us to have a good time, which we really did, even though we didn't see one dolphin! - I guess thats nature! 
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