Today we left Auckland and drove over the mountains to the East coast of New Zealand. Our destination was a little spot called Hot Water Beach. The drive over was so amazingly beautiful, with peaceful pastures of cows and sheep, and even some deer - venison anyone?- , and then dramatic mountain passes with ferns that look like palm trees dotting the pine covered hills. We timed our arrival with the low tide, because that is when the magic happens at this special beach. There are two springs that bubble up from the sands, with water hot enough to scald heated by geothermal activity close to the surface. People dig holes in the sand near the springs to make their own natural little hot tubs. Luckily we found friendly sorts there to lend us a shovel! For a few hours, we soaked in the tubs and splashed in the surf, until the tide came in and flooded our hole with cold ocean water. I can't wait to show you pictures! The ocean was so beautiful. I'll be adding more details as I add pictures once we are back home, as the photos will jog my memories.
Tonight we are staying in a little town down the coast from the Hot Water Beach called Pauanui. It seems the place becomes a ghost town once the summer holidays are over and we pretty much have the place to ourselves. It is an exceptional development that reminded us of The Truman Show as we drove around looking for a place to eat dinner. There are only 700 year-round residents and the place swells to 18,000 when the holiday beach crowd show up. We only get to stay this one night and then we head south to Hobbiton. It will be good to see the Shire again.