Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cormandel: Hot Water Beach and Simpson Beach

After McLaren Falls, we left midday to drive up to the Cormandel, which is a peninsula about 3 hours east of Auckland. The entire peninsula is beautiful and seemingly one beach after another. We drove up the east coast from Tauranga (which isn't actually on the map above as it's more south and east) and I believe it took us about 4 hours. We reached Hot Water Beach about 6:30pm and knew that because of the tide, we wouldn't be able to see and experience the Hot Water on the Beach if we waited until the next day.

The beach was windy and the sun was setting behind the cliffs that everyone had made their hot water pool in. There are actually hot springs below the sand that you can dig with shovels and scoops and eventually your own feet to reach the hot water. There were probably two dozen holes remaining at the end of the day and dozens of tourists sitting in about a foot of water and looking like beached whales. It was a hilarious sight.

One thing led to another and a Swiss family handed off their pool to us only to have us leap out screaming as it was BOILING hot water! We eventually drained their pool into the adjoining one so it'd be cooler, Tim SAT in the remaining hot water, and we chatted up the Swiss father - to make the world a bit smaller he and his family live in the neighborhood next to Buchillion on Lake Geneva - which is the neighborhood in Switzerland that my godmother, the infamous Aunt Kate, lived in the past 6 years. I've probably walked through this man's neighborhood.

The Swiss family told us about their campsite at Simpson Beach, about a half hour north, and we headed off as the sun was setting. We found Simpson Beach and the "campground" was a patch of beautiful beach front grassy property that people with self-contained RVs could camp on. Tim ran up to the house of the folks who owned the property, promised we wouldn't shit on their land, and paid them 5 dollars to let us camp at the end of the grounds. We immediately screamed with glee, set up camp, and I made a small fire with nothing but some tinder and two matches. Without the bugs, we sat just feet from the beach under these huge trees that lined the property, and ate our dinner until it was time to go to bed.

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