Happy Friday everyone!
I hope the first day of spring treated you well.
Today, I wanted to continue on with Part Two of my New Zealand adventures. Enjoy!
The only evidence of Hot Water Beach. Where we parked. Too bad we were having too much fun to take pictures!
Wild hydrangeas. Everywhere. Lining the highways!
Beautiful McClaren Falls.
Our first campsite! By the river.
One of my favorite memories of the trip has to be just following loading up our van with all of our camping equipment. Maren, Aaron, and I piled in the car (Aaron was the most fearless when it came to driving on the “wrong” side of the road, so he drove first), waving goodbye to Maren’s parents. Just before pulling out of the “car park,” Maren turned to us and said:
“Does anyone else think that we somehow aren’t old enough to be doing this by ourselves?”
Agreed. Who allowed this without parental supervision?!
And the adventures began! One of the first things I’ll admit to loving when traveling abroad is visiting local grocery stores. There’s something about seeing all the popular food items and observing everyone going about their regular routine in another country that just fascinates me. It’s possibly the least tourist-y thing you can do, but, to me, is just as exciting as touring more famous sites. We picked up a ton of food and drinks for our trip: lamb (the cheapest meat available!), local beer, a box of wine, Tim Tams, fresh fruit, and cheese. You can see a lovely snapshot of the wine we chose above. I almost cried from laughing so hard, when I realized we picked up something called “Merlot Cabernet.” Are we a blend? Or just confused?
Our first stop of the day was Hot Water Beach, a natural phenomenon on the coast of the Coromandel Peninsula. This had to be one of our favorite stops on our trip. No where on earth will you come across a beach, littered with grown adults armed with shovels, digging their own spas in the sand. Only possible when the tide is out, we stopped by rather late in the day, and attempted to find an abandoned pool. Convinced it was a total hoax after coming across only cold water, we stared at all the people contentedly sitting in their pools. It didn’t make sense, until we happened to come across a pool so piping hot, we had to keep swirling the water around to prevent ourselves from getting scalded! Sitting in a steaming bath a few feet from the very cold ocean is something I will never forget. Groups started to clear out as the tide came in, washing the hot water away. In one of the more hilarious moments of our trip, we watched an entire family of Pakistani tourists take over an unwitting couple’s pool. The two still sat in their swimsuits while surrounded by fully clothed people, standing, soaking their feet and chatting, completely oblivious.
Following the beach adventures, we quickly headed out to find a campsite for the night. Driving around the nearby summer town of Tapu, we found that all the motor camps and campsite were almost fully booked. After a brief stop to admire an odd freedom camp by the side of the road, we set up a makeshift camp off-road, and cooked a delicious meal. This was no beenies&weenies, but lamb chops with garlic mashed potatoes. I was a camping convert. The next day, we made our way in the direction of The Shire (and yes, it’s listed on maps as “The Shire”) and happened to make a pit stop at McClaren Falls. Should I ever go back, I would love to revisit this lovely, well-maintained park along with the beautiful falls. It had a little bit of something for everyone, kayaking, horseback riding, picnics, you name it! I highly recommend stopping by, should you ever be in the North Island.
Have a good weekend everyone and stay tuned for the next episode!