Today was another porridge day and also a relatively early start. Not only did we have a long drive ahead but we also had a date with the low tide at a nearby beach.
It was already shaping up to be another glorious hot NZ day with not a cloud in the sky as we packed up the car and set off to our first destination of the day. This was about 30 minutes away and called Hot Water Beach.
This is apparently the hottest beach in the world and the only one where you can dig your own spa on the beach. The water can reach 66c. The beach area where it happens is only accessible 2 hours before and after low tide.
We arrived at exactly the time of the low tide and found a space on the small car park. Paying for the car park was another matter as it seemed random whether it would accept credit cards. Everyone was having trouble. I succeeded on my 4th attempt.
Then I went to the local shop where I hired the necessary spade for another $10. All sorted we headed to the part of the beach where there were probably already around 100 people.
Many people were digging their holes/spas whilst others were already laying in theirs. I picked a likely spot and dug. I dug and dug and dug. I constructed a nice spa. As I dug the water seeped in from underneath. It was cold. I was perplexed. I didn’t know if it would gradually get warm or not.
Karen had it in her head then it was all to do with the tide, which of course it wasn’t. The tidal element was that the slope of the beach nearer to where the hot springs hit surface was only accessible at low tide. Whilst you could probably access the hot springs at high tide, it would mean digging a hole many metres deep. I tried to explain this several times but I am still not sure she understands it.
Anyhow my hole was cold. The people digging next to me said theirs was cold as well. We looked at each other perplexed. Then someone said that we were digging in the wrong place. So we walked round most of the other people and tried the other side. Several more holes later and my feet were still getting to stand in cold water. Someone else suggested just digging where the sand felt warm but we tried that a few times all to no avail.
By now I was starting to suspect thats everyone’s holes were filled up with cold water as well, but it was like the Kings New Clothes and nobody was prepared to admit it. We had all been conned into paying for parking and the hiring of spades.
Then just as I was standing in my latest hole of cold water, a rather attractive young German girl asked if I would like to try her pool which was just in front of where I was digging. Not wishing to offend I stepped in it and had to immediately step out again as it was flipping boiling. She said to try the other end of her pool where it was slightly cooler and it was. It was totally amazing, like stepping into a hot bath. She said she was then leaving and that we could have the pool, which we gratefully accepted. I sat down and enjoyed the warmth and Karen joined me but would only stand for a short while as it was too hot for her.
Gradually the tide was coming in and washing away all the pools in front of ours. We waited about 10 minutes until the sea was ready to breach ours and left. It was all rather remarkable. I do suspect though that many people were actual laying in cold water as they could not possibly have remained immersed if their pools were really hot. I am so glad we got to experience it, even if I did lots of erroneous digging. Incidentally if I had dug all the way through the earths crust and come out the other side, apparently I would have been somewhere in Spain.
We set the Sat Nav to our next motel which showed a 3 ¼ hour drive. We had barely done 3 miles when I deviated off the course to visit Cooks Beach. This is where Captain Cook first landed. Not only that but apparently a lovely beach area as well and so I thought we would regret not at least having a look and it only added another 20 miles to the journey ahead.
The beach and bay were lovely. The commenting memorial itself was underwhelming though. To make up for this fact we ended up stopping at a lovely up market cafe in the town and having a brunch of poached egg and bacon on sourdough toast to sustain us for the drive ahead. Whilst eating I reminded Karen that Captain Cook had died 10 years later in Hawaii whilst trying to kidnap one of the Hawaiian kings, the locals disembowelled him and baked his body.
The first part of the journey was hard work back over the mountain ranges. We listened to some music and then the latest Danny Baker podcast. Karen nearly burst laughing so much at it.
After the first hour I started looking for somewhere to stop. We didn’t come across any spots at all which was unusual.
Another hour passed and we hit the proper road below and through Auckland. The traffic got heavy and the driving was now difficult for different reasons. I was now getting quite tired and still we found no stops. We were almost coming to the end of the motorway type road when we found a service station and gratefully pulled in. I made up a roll to eat and Karen went and got herself a coffee.
We drove on for another 20 minutes before arriving at a small seaside town called Orewa where we stopped again. We got a couple of take out teas and went and sat to drink them overlooking the bay. It was lovely. The temperature had hit 31c and was really starting to get too hot. We walked along the beach before getting back in the car to finish the journey to the motel.
This was at a place called Matakana. It didn’t look much as we arrived and we both feared the worst. Karen was already saying that we may have to go to McDonalds some 20 miles back to get some food. The motel was down a long drive and looked nothing special as I pulled in. How wrong we were. Karen went and checked us whilst I turned the car around. As I did so, I suddenly started to notice that everywhere looked immaculate. Karen come out of reception with a big smile as she could already tell as well that we had booked a gem.
Our room was superb, almost 5 star standard. We even had a patio area and garden. Everything was new and of a very high quality. We had a quick hot drink but I wanted a cold one and so we thought we would walk to see if we could find one. The village of Matakana was another revelation. It was delightful, full of up market shops, cafes, bars, restaurants and even a small quality cinema all within a 100 meters of our room. The village could have been part of Celebration in Florida or even part of Disney Springs. The more we discovered the more we smiled and the more we wished we had an extra day here. The whole village had a feel of an upmarket resort.
After sitting on our patio for a while we then got ready to head out for dinner. There were many lovely looking places we could have chosen we went for one called The Rusty Pelican. We both ordered Pizza and a glass of NZ Savvy B. They were both delicious as was our outside table in the lovely warm evening sunshine.
OK NZ, I submit. This is a lovely country and a lovely place to visit at this time of year. We are already planning our itinerary for our next visit.