Our first few nights post camper were spent in Whitianga. It felt strange to be sleeping in a proper bed, have space to spread out our things and not have to cook off a camping stove. The day we arrived in Whitianga it was glorious sunshine, everyone was at the beach enjoying the evening sun and the last days of their summer holidays. We hadn’t booked any accommodation and didn’t arrive until around 6pm, some motels were full, some too expensive, eventually we came across Sea Gypsy Motel, run by a lovely South African couple. They charged us for a studio but we had the pick of any apartment we wanted, and ended up in a huge apartment with 7 beds.
The next day was overcast and a lot cooler than the last few days. We went online to book a hostel for that evening and then decided to take a trip to Cathedral Cove. The hike was around 45-50 minutes, up steep paths and uneven ground, once again we were in flip flops which weren’t the most sensible footwear we could have chosen. The archway you see was featured in the Chronicles of Narnia (so we were told). Lots of people were swimming in the sea, we gave it a miss owing to the ferocious waves although those who were in there seemed to be having lots of fun. Along the beach there was a small waterfall coming off the top of the cliff and dripping down into the sea. After another hike back to the car we headed off to our next destination, hot water beach.
An hour before the tide goes out you can start digging in the sand to locate the two hot streams which run under the beach, hence its name hot water beach. When we arrived there were hundreds already there digging to locate some hot water, and there was a film crew from the discover channel filming a documentary. Having them there was quite annoying, there are only 2 locations you could dig and they were there getting in tourists way with their cameras. The beach wasn’t quite as we expected, as each time you found the hot water a wave would come and wash it away. Although we couldn’t dig our own hot pool it was still a great thing to have done and at some points the water was so unbearably hot you couldn’t keep your foot in it for more than a few seconds. You can rent spades for $5 at a local cafe rather than having to lug your own there.
The following day we took a trip to Piha to see the black sand beach. There is a huge rock in the middle of the sea and the rips make it one of the most dangerous beaches in New Zealand. They have a show called Piha rescue filmed there, one episode featuring a man swimming against the current for 30 minutes, each time he managed to swim somewhere he was then swept out again.
This pretty much concludes our time in New Zealand, we spent our final day at a place called shakesphere regional park, a pest free park teeming with wildlife. We took the 30 minute walk upto the viewpoint to look over the bay. We also met up with John’s school friend Niel for some drinks at Gulf Harbour.