Even though Auckland was awesome and I do want to go back to do all the things I didn’t get to do, I was glad to leave it. I feel that you can only get a complete feel for the country if you go to its little towns and villages.
We rented a car from Europcar in Auckland. We were given a Holden Trax. We made sure we got an automatic because dealing with a car being on the left side was a big enough challenge. Since George had driven over a 1,000 miles in Ireland, it was not as big an adjustment this time. But I am glad we spent a few days in Auckland before renting a car. The jet lag is real!!
Auckland is the largest city in NZ and it has traffic to match it. There are very busy streets and 8 lane highways going out of the city. But once you get out of the metropolitan area it is mainly 2 lane roads.
Even though things seem close on a map, they are much further in real life because the engineers who built the roads don’t believe in straight lines. The roads are all very curvy. I even had to take some motion sickness medication.
Our destination was Hahei in the Coromandel Peninsula. Once you get into the Coromandel Forest Park it starts looking like you are in a Jurassic Park movie. The forest is thick but there are some gigantic fern looking trees everywhere.
We stopped for lunch in Tairua. It is the first town that you get the beachy feeling. There are several little shops, an i center and supermarket. We went into the pub and got $10 lunches. I had the Seafood chowder and the guys had fish and chips. It was a great bargain and got us to Hahei.
Hahei is a really small town with a population of about 180. It is famous for its beaches and that is why we stayed there. Church Accommodations was our home for 2 nights. It is a charming little hotel. There are several little cabins and they all are shaped like churches and have windows from the old church that was moved there. The room is small but it has a queen sized bed and a twin bed. It has a small kitchenette and a bathroom. Nothing too fancy but with lots of character.
Our landlord suggested that we go to Hot Water beach soon after we arrived. The hotel provides shovels and beach towels. I am so glad we went that night because the weather was perfect.
Hot Water Beach has underground hot springs that filter through the sand at low tide. All you have to do is dig a hole and it fills up with hot water. The key is finding the right spot because some places are too hot and others too cold. We had to dig in a couple holes because the first one was too hot. But then we found the right spot and had our very own natural hot tub.
It was such a fun thing to do and kids of all ages would enjoy doing it. I enjoy watching people and some people come to the beach completely unprepared, without shovels or wearing clothes, or carrying several bags. Others come ready to enjoy the unique beach. Because the best spots get taken up early some people try using the holes dug up by others and they usually can only dip their toes because the water gets too hot. If you get too hot the ocean is only a few feet away and you can jump into the freezing waters. Then when you get too cold you can dip into your own hot tub.
Tonight was my first glimpse into the amazing night sky over New Zealand. It was breathtaking and I wish I had taken some pictures. There were so many stars, we could even see the Milky Way.
For dinner we walked over to The Pour House and ate meat pies. We talked to a Canadian couple living in Australia. They suggested that we visit Tasmania because it is their favorite place.
Hahei in the winter is so quiet but because it is still pretty far north doesn’t get too cold. It is a little piece of paradise and a wonderful place to visit while in New Zealand.