. The boat came to take us back to civilisation, and we got back on the bus for another couple of hours.
We stopped off to sea a big tree- sorry, I dont do it justice. It was a Kauri tree, the biggest in New Zealand (I think) at least in volume- and was 50m high and 15m circumference. It reminded me of the tree in the hundred acre wood in Winnie the pooh. Photos dont really show the magnitude of it, but it was certainly awe inspiring. We drove to another tree spot, and walked through the forest to see the 2nd largest tree in the Kauri forest- 20m circumference, but not as high. These were BIG trees.
Another long bus journey later we got into this not-very-nice little town to stock up on grocery supplies, and I found an internet cafe. I got back on the bus in good time, then tried to find my phone (I'd just brought more credit) and realised I'd left my bag in the cafe... I've got to remember to check like Aunty Liz says! Anyway I legged it back there and fortunately it was right where I left it, and then legged it back again so I didnt have to pay the 'jug fine' (buying drinks at the end of the trip if you're ever late for a departure).
More hours on the bus passed, and the scenery was starting to look a bit repetitive- green rolling hills, sheep, you get the picture
. We arrived at Waiwera Holiday Park which is tiny but again has great views over another bay, put our tents up, and had fish curry (which was cold by the time I got to it) and more chewy tagliatelle (I dont mind- its food!) We all walked down the road to the Waiwera Themral Pool Resort, which consists of 19 pools (supposedly- I could only find 11, and even that was being generous) but I'm so glad I went- it was like having a bath! The movie pool (which was showing a film through the night) was so hot it hurt my feet as I stepped in. I spent most of the evening in there, but they also had 4 or 5 different slides, which were lots of fun. People were talking about training for half marathons, and how much they enjoy exercising etc, so I kinda got in the mood for a bit of training. Didnt do very much, just 7 or 8 laps of a pool, but it was so worth it just to do back crawl underneath the stars... The water is 'pure water from a geothermal aquifer 1500m below the resort' heated naturally- its really strange!
The whole day has been great- I wouldnt have been able to do any of it on my own, its made a lot more fun by having others around. However I do miss the independence i had in America of just being able to stop and do what I want- and I dont like having to keep up with people when I'm cycling! But theres no way i'd be able to do all this if I was on public transport, let alone driving, so I think its best.
I woke up about 6:30am to pack up my tent (again somewhat unsucessfully) and we left at 8:30. An hour or so later arrived at Opononi, to go sand dune boarding. The village itself it basically 2 shops and a restaurant, but there are amazing views over yet another bay, this time with sand dunes as a backdrop to one side! We got a 5 minute boat over to the dunes, and were left with a stack of boogie boards and a big steep dune! Fortunately Grant had done it many a time before, so we watched him run and leap onto the board and zoom down the dune into the water- and one by one all copied. It was so much fun! The water was really refreshing too, but it was soo hard climbing back up this sand dune. Really steep and every step you took you just went back another! They were about 12m high, but only about 4 or 6m wide, so they were really steep and you could get some speed going! It was perfect weather- warm sun, but not too hot and not too cold. We spent the next hour playing in the sea and sand and appreciating the amazing views over this azure blue sea again