We picked up our little camper van, that we called our home for 5 weeks in New Zealand, in Auckland on Tuesday 19 February. We set off a bit late in the afternoon from Auckland and only made it to the small town of Thames as our first stop. A quaint little town, that looks the way an old fashioned town should look. After a night there, we drove onwards to Coromandel, which was an even smaller town than Thames. The drive there introduced us to the classic New Zealand type of road, very windy, with lots of steep hills up and down and of course, stunning views. We soon learnt that our little 5sqm rolling home did not take hills very well, with a maximum speed of about 30-40km up the hills, the drive to Hot Water Beach near Hahei, where we stayed for our second night.
As we were walking along Hot Water Beach in the afternoon, the waves were crashing in quite hard and fast and I fell victim to this, getting completely drenched as a wave surprised me when I was distracted and looking elsewhere. It must have made for quite a funny sight. I had sand everywhere afterwards and kept finding sand everywhere for days after.
Hot Water Beach gets its name from the hot pools you can dig at low tide, when you can search up and dig a hot pool as there are hot ‘veins’ running underneath the sand from an ancient volcano. The hot water goes up to as hot as 65 celsius in some places. We went down to the beach for the evening low tide, so we got down there around 10pm and where lucky enough to get to share a pool that a few others had already started digging out. It was a bizarre experience to sit in this puddle on the beach that was really warm and in some spots it was so hot you couldn’t even sit there without burning yourself. I even got a few small burn blisters on my foot the following day. And at the price of hiring a shovel for $5, I think its a well worth it tourist attraction! And if you go a bit later, you can just recycle the hole that someone else has dug out before you anyway. But beware that the high tide comes back in very fast.
Our third day we went to check out Cathedral Cove, which was wonderful. You take a 45 min hike down to the beach, crossing a mixture of terrain from green and leafy bushes, fields with sheep and cows, large lush pine forrest mixed with ferns. It’s sort of similar to the Twelve Apostles along the Great Ocean Road, in that there are large rock formations out at sea and by the shore line, these rock formations have greenery growing on them too. Cathedral Cove is actually a cave that you can walk through on the beach. The water is so turquoise and beautiful.