Auckland, New Zealand
Cityscape... I'm not sure what the big tall thing is. In the foreground is the crater of Mt. Eden, the largest dormant volcano in Auckland.
Last night I was reminded why I haven't stayed in many dorm-style hostels on this trip. Throughout the night, my seven roommates kept coming and going, stumbling in (most of them were drunk, I'm sure), clattering about, and occasionally turning lights on (in the middle of the night, mind you). On top of that, the fire alarm in our room kept going off at random intervals, despite the complete lack of fire. I don't think I slept more than 20 minutes at a time the entire night!
Got up this morning, had a bit of breakfast and coffee, and somehow nearly missed my bus for the Kiwi Experience - the "adventure trip" I booked for 6 of the 8 days I'm in New Zealand. I had to run (laden with a 45 lb backpack) a long city block to catch the bus as it was stopped at a stop light. Thankfully, they let me on, and I wasn't crushed by oncoming traffic. There are only 5 of us on today's trek: 2 guys named Chris, both from the UK, and Cian and Charley from Ireland (the Republic). All are quite friendly, though we haven't really had the chance to get
Picturesque, isn't it?
to know each other yet. Our driver is a Kiwi woman named Lauren, and despite being an excellent guide and very knowledgeable, has the annoying habit of adding "guys" to the end of every sentence, and interjecting "It's all good" at inappropriate moments. It would be endearing if it wasn't continuous.
Our first stop of the day was at Mt. Eden, the tallest mountain in Auckland, where we had absolutely gorgeous 360-degree views of the city, the surrounding bays, and several of the dormant volcanoes that created the New Zealand Islands. From there, we drove an hour and a half to Cathedral Cove, which was quite lovely but not terribly thrilling.
After Cathedral Cove, we drove to Hot Water Beach, which is awesome
. There's a hot spring directly under the beach, and if you dig a foot or so down, you can create a pool of warm water, even in the midst of winter. The water that bubbles up is scaldingly hot, but if you let a bit of ocean water in, it can be a delightful little personal spa. Some of the other guys on my trip decided to do hot/cold intervals, so took dips in the
Hot Water Beach
There's a hot spring directly under the beach, so you can dig a big hole in the sand and lounge about.
ocean between dips in their "spas"... frigid
From there, we drove further to our overnight accommodations in Whitianga (pronounced "FIT-ee-ung'-guh), which is a quaint little town with little-to-nothing in it except a few hole-in-the-wall shops. An excellent place to sleep.
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