Kiwi Experience Day 1 – On the Bus to Hot Water Beach!
10th September 2012
Kia Ora! (Hello)
Welcome to the next series of my 2012 Travels! The Kiwi Experience! This hop on and hop off service in New Zealand offers flexible transport options for independent travellers that links the country’s most beautiful scenic locations and adventures activities. This I like! But wait there’s more.
One of the many passes you buy can be used within 12 months of payment and you get to take your time which means more time in destinations. Also, the legendary travel guides are completely utterly 100% Kiwi and will be able to give you very funny stories along with their insightful commentaries to discover the real NZ. With the pass, you are guaranteed accommodation as your driver will be able to organise that, also you get access to great deals and awesome inclusions – some that won’t cost you a cent!
This exciting map tells me where I will be going with my Funky Chicken Pass. Since I’ll be leaving Auckland to head into the heart of the country, my next overnight stop is Hot Water Beach.
But first, I have to get picked up first! Organised by the fantastic chat online support, I was able to book myself on the bus that leaves today and she told me to head to the Kiwi Experience Office on Beach Road in Auckland. Ok, this would be a long walk with my bags from BASE Hostel. Sweating like a beast, I managed to find it on time only to discover I could have got a pick up from BASE….d’oh! With a quick check in, I was informed it was going to be a massive booked full bus! I was really surprised seeing as I’ve heard stories of only a few people on buses particularly in this off-peak season.
They weren’t wrong when I climbed aboard on the bus. It was packed to the rafters. I suddenly felt old, when I saw fresh young faces and a couple of people I spoke to said they were 18. Oh crap. But luckily much later on, I found someone who was 30 so SCORE, I’m not the oldest!!!
Sweet as Bro!
As the bus hit the road to head to our final destination of the day of Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula, I got chatting to a few people on the bus. It’s pretty cool how quite a few solo travellers can get talking to each other easily and before we knew it, we were at our first stop at the Wintergardens for a convenience stop. Grabbing a bite to eat to keep going, we listened to an hilarious story by Dave, our driver, who claimed there are 4 types of people but he was mostly talking about the type who ensures no good times happens to them…like in point when a girl wanted to tell her driver she wasn’t having a good time by dropping a used tampon over the balcony at his feet. Nice.
After listening to some mean tunes we arrived in the picturesque settlement of Tairua for lunch. It’s pretty amazing. See the pics.
The mountain that dominates the view is Mount Paku, which once was the site of Maori Pa, a fortified village that liked to see wars happening in winter time when every tribe liked to bash each other and reduce each others Manu. A Manu is your luck. If someone hits you in the face, your manu is reduced. You would reckon that!
After a brief stop, I was pretty blown away by the amazing views of the Coromandel Peninsula Forest as the bus was expertly driven around the windy roads. Fact – there are no straight roads in New Zealand!
Soon at around 1.30pm, we arrived at our accommodation for the night, that was organised by Dave, the driver. Our accommodation is a great lodge place called Hot Water Beach Top 10 Holiday Park. We had time to relax but if you wanted to kayak at Cathedral Cove, you had to leave pretty soon. I didn’t kayak but it didn’t mean I wouldn’t be going to Cathedral Cove as the driver rounded up the rest of us to drive to Cathedral Cove to go on a walking trail. After a good half hour walk, we arrived at the spectular views of the beach and also of the cove. Check out the pics.
See the rock in the water at a distance? Well, much to other’s shocks, I plunged into the absolutely freezing waters to swim to it, climb on it and swim back. Then spent a good 10 mins trying to get feeling back into my toes and fingers!
You can definitely see why the cove is called Cathedral Cove. It’s so big to push a boat through it…although you wouldn’t catch me doing that!
Back at the hostel, Dave made us a fantastic meal of Chilli Con Carne. It was solely needed as it was pretty cold as the day drew to a close. But the day is not over yet!
Because of the high tide during the day, we couldn’t visit Hot Water Beach…until Now. Rated as one of the world top 10 beaches by Lonely Planet, I wasn’t really disappointed when I discovered Hot Water Beach was actually in fact…HOT! Here it is 8pm and I’m stripped to my swimwear in a hot pool, dug out by a few of us. It’s absolutely freezing outside the pool. Yet you could have red hot water gushing out from the sand thanks to a volcanic water stream. In some cases, the water was actually too hot to bathe in and quite often you would hear people screaming out in the dark ‘oh my god, it’s so hot!’ Visions of charred hot bodies floating in pools from the movie Dante’s Peak (Pierce Brosnan) flashed in my mind….what is wrong with me? But after a while, of being burnt at one end and then frozen on the other, I decided to call it a day and head back to the hostel with a couple of others to grab that hot first shower and a nice cuppa tea.
By the WAY! Earlier, when I was talking to people at the hostel, I got talking to a Yorkshire lass and I miserably said that I missed Yorkshire tea. Well, she looked round furtively and whispered to me that she has many packs of it and I was welcome to use it. Frozen, I looked at her, tears brimming to my eyes and choked out thanks between sobs! I missed Yorkshire Tea so much! It’s been 5 months without it!
Later on, when the rest came back, we just chilled on the veranda outside the lodges and had a quick drink before I decided to call it a night, ready for the next adventure tomorrow…Waitomo!