North Island Day 1: Auckland - The Coromandel

Trip Start May 20, 2008
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18
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Trip End Apr 18, 2010


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Flag of New Zealand  , Waikato,
Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Why is it that no matter how little time I've been staying somewhere and no matter how little stuff I have to pack it always takes me about two hours to pack the car up? Admittedly, most of that two hours is me staring at everything hoping that it might somehow pack itself but still. I was at Matt's for like, four nights and I managed to move my entire life into his place in that short space of time and spread it around the flat into every available corner. Give me another week and I've have redecorated and started picking out new drapes.

Anyway, eventually I crammed my life into the Camry and headed out west to pick Andrea up, the lass I'd be travelling with who I met on the internet about three years ago and only met face to face for the first time yesterday. She doesn't appear to have too many psychotic tendencies though but keep an eye out for headlines screaming "English Backpacker Disappears In NZ After Internet Meet". She's originally from Leeds but now lives in Ohio with her fella and her kids and she's also in the Guinness Book Of World Records for having the biggest appendix in the world ever. My only claim to fame is once, in the pub, I staggered up to the guy who used to present Run The Risk, a UK kid's TV program in the 90's and asked, nay, slurred if he was "the bloke off the telly" coz none of us could remember if his name was Simon Peters or Peter Simons. I may or may not have drooled on his shoes. I'm not entirely sure.

I digress.

I picked up my new buddy from her brother's place and we headed off to the Coromandel region, first stop being Hot Water Beach. The aim here is to battle the hoardes of other tourists for a bit of sand to dig a hole in so you can sit in your very own hot spring on the beach.

Sounds easy yeah? It's not. As you dig the hole keeps filling in with waters. You dig, it fills and collapses. You dig some more. You build a small wall to stop the waves from lapping up the shore into your hole but still it fills in. By the end of it you don't want a hot water spring anymore. You want a cold water pool and an esky full of ice and beer. Then you realise you've been digging in the wrong spot anyway and the hot water bit is 5 metres to your right.
And shit is it hot! Yeah yeah, I know the clue is in the name of the place, it's not Tepid Water Beach or Little Bit Toasty Water Beach but seriously, it actually hurts. It should be renamed Really Fucking Hot Water Beach although we were the only ones bitching about it. You can take the pom out of England but you can't take the whinge out of the pom.

It didn't take too long for the novelty of potential third degree burns to wear off so we headed off to look for a place to crash for the night. I'd told Andrea we'd be camping for most of if not all of this trip on account of my laughable budget and she was like "yeah I love camping!" before remembering she hadn't been camping since she was 13 and that was in her back garden. This could be amusing.
 
The first place we went to was full, the second wanted at least two of your four limbs for an unpowered site so we headed back up the main road towards a DoC campsite on the map but it was getting late. Then we passed a sign for a bird And animal park at Mill Creek that also had campsites available so we duly swung a left onto an unsealed road. It felt like we were driving for ages up this remote little road in the middle of nowhere, I had visions of mutants emerging from the trees wielding chainsaws and waking up nailed to a wall with one or more of my organs missing as the signal bars on my phone dropped one by one.
Just as we were about to give up and head to the DoC site there was a sign telling us it was 500  metres away so we carried on, followed the campervan sign and stopped. It was deserted. There was an empty caravan with an annex to the left which looked like it had been there forever, to the right was an empty field and a shed thing. Ahead was a little path that lead between some trees and you couldn't see what was on the other side.

I'd seen this movie.

Eventually we found the office round the corner and were greeted by an overtanned hippy lady clutching a duckling who took $12.50 each off us, gave us directions to the showers and told us to feel free to wander round and look at the birds and animals. She wasn't even a little bit sinister.
I kinda felt bad for doubting the place because it's actually really cool, they have heaps of farm animals and birds that they care for and the facilities at the campsite are brilliant. I jumped into the shower and a quantity of sand the Sahara would be proud of fell out of my knickers.

I spent the rest of the night expecting a phone call from Hot Water Beach asking for their sand back.
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