29th June – 1st July 2016
We woke up early Wednesday morning like excited kids at Christmas, we couldn’t wait to get on the Kiwi bus after hearing such good things about it. Unfortunately the weather didn’t match our moods as it was overcast and raining! Armed with jumpers and waterproof coats we made our way to our chosen pick up point on Queenstreet and waited for the bus to arrive…
The bus arrived right on time and after dumping our bags below we jumped straight on. We had a few other pick up points in Auckland but before we knew it we were leaving the big city behind and heading for the beautiful countryside and our first stop Hot Water Beach.
We arrived at ‘Hot Water Beach Top 10’ our accommodation for the night around 1.30. Due to the tide we weren’t due to visit Hot Water Beach until 7 that evening so as an optional activity to keep us occupied for the afternoon our driver took us down to the starting point of the walk to Cathedral Cove. Unfortunately due to the weather, kayaking to the cove wasn’t an option so walking it was! I don’t think any of us had really realised how bad the weather actually was until we stepped off the bus into torrential rain!! With FOMO kicking in (if you don’t know what that means you better go and find out 😉 ) we carried on and 5 minutes later we arrived at Stingray Bay. With no stingrays in sight we turned back and carried on to Catherdral Cove.
Half an hour later we arrived and we were not in the best of moods… soaked to the core and freezing cold we were really wishing we had stayed back at the hostel! The cove was beautiful and I can definitely see why they chose it as one of the locations to film a scene from Narnia BUT I imagine it looks a lot nicer on a warm sunny day! With only the warm dry bus in mind I didn’t hang around long before heading back up the trail back to the bus.
We arrived back at the hostel a bunch of soggy messes all with only one thing in mind – the tumble dryer! It turned out to be a nightmare as we had one dryer to share between around 50 of us, it was every man for himself. By the time it had reached 7 we were still no closer to getting our stuff in the dryer so we gave up and headed down to the beach!
It was so weird to be going to a beach in the middle of winter and at night but as soon as we arrived we could see all the steam coming up from the sand and when we took our shoes off the sand was so warm, even hot in some places! We wasted no time in digging our holes and soon the hot water was pouring through. How this works is that water seeps down through the fissures in the rock to the molten magma way below the surface and is then sent back up to the surface as hot water which can somtimes be as hot as 64 degrees so you do have to be careful!
After we got back from the beach we spent the evening in the communal area with everyone from our bus and had a few drinks (some more than others ey Daniel).
Thursday morning we were up early ready to leave for Waitomo. On the way we stopped at Karangahake Gorge to do the Windows walk. It was a beautiful little walk across suspension bridges, along the old mining tracks and through some of the mining caves along the gorge. 30 minutes later we were back on the bus heading to Waitomo.
We arrived in Waitomo around 2pm to some very wet weather. Unfortunately this meant that the caves were flooded so all Black Labyrinth and Black Odyssey tours were cancelled. Luckily I was doing the Ruakuri Cave walk which was still open! Our guide picked us up from the hostel at 2.30 and drove us to the cave entrance.
The Ruakuri caves were first discovered by local Maori almost 500 years ago. It is the longest underground cave in the Waitomo area of New Zealand and it is pretty impressive. The tour was such good fun and very interesting especially as our guide told us loads of quirky little facts – I won’t tell you them, you will have to go yourselves!