Dig hole on beach. Sit in hole. Feel the warmth.

The morning today started of innocuously enough as I got up early and went for a hike. The place I’m staying is really rather enjoyable – it’s right on the beach.

There is always something a bit special of being able to wake up and walk less than 2 minutes and be stepping into the ocean. Anyways, I did a typical 2 hour hike or so. This one was quite a good work out, with lengthy ascents and descents and at one peak I got a good view back of the small town of Whitianga:

Another look out spot later on gave a great look at Cook’s beach:

The beach was where Cook was anchored while tracking the planet Mercury’s progress – and after leaving, Cook named the area ‘Mercury Bay’. Looks pretty nice and tropical in the pictures, but the temperature wasn’t quite there yet! Still, I’d make a stop at a beach later in the day anyways.

After finishing my hike, I returned to my hostel and collected two fellow travellers – Tania, and Matt, an english musician/astrophysicist. I kid you not on that, it’s actually a pretty interesting combo. Together, we grabbed shovels, piled into my station wagon and went to a different area near Whitianga called Hot Water Beach.

The goal here? Dig yourself a big hole. Wait for the hole to fill with water (not from the ocean but from the ground). Sit in your dirt hole and let the sometimes scalding hot water warm you.

It’s another form of the volcanic pools that are so prevalent here in NZ. Except here it is heated sea water comes up from under the ground at a spot here on the beach rather than the sulphuric pools you get elsewhere. It’s only accessible during low tide times, so you have a limited window to enjoy your man-made hot tub:

The 3 of us created a veritable swimming pool compared to others, and I engineered a heat regulation system – the hot water came in from the top right area, and just to the left were pools of cold water.  I put in streams of hot and cold into the pool – just having hot water coming in would turn your pool from enjoyable hot tub to cooking humans in about 5 minutes. The cold water addition worked out quite nicely. Old fashioned process control!

After sitting and enjoying our hard work for about an hour, we dried off and went to the other major attraction in the area – Cathedral Cove.

Only accessible by 40 minute hike, it’s a beautiful secluded spot, with the very identifiable tunnel through to the Cathedral Cove side. Which was ‘closed’.

3 nylon strings were up to prevent tourists near the arch area. Did that stop us? Of course not.

Rocks had fallen from the ceiling in previous years, leading the government to close the arch. Matt and I walked through anyways. We kept our eyes upwards…just in case. But we made it to the other side unscathed.

Doesn’t look so dangerous now eh? All in all, a fun day.

I bid adieu to the Coromandel Peninsula today, but I’ll be back – I still want to hike the Pinnacles. But for now, the Bay of Plenty calls. Tauranga and Mt Maunganui are next!

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