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Across to hot water beach then down to Waitomo

The start of the main KiwiEx route

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Day 47 (Sat 10/12/2011)

Today was the main start of the Kiwi experience trip, most people get on at Auckland to start their tour of the North island. The first day and night trip was to hot water beach. The bus was pretty much full which was good.

Hot water beach is a special area with geothermic activity under the sand on a beach. The idea is that at low tide you can take a spade and dig a small hole in the sand. The boiling hot water bubbles up from limited points on the beach and fills up the holes. As the waves wash in, the cool water mixes with the hot water to form a more comfortable temperature.

From Auckland we were rushing to get to hot water beach to make it in time for the low tide period. By the time we’d sorted everything out in the hostel, we were towards the end of the best time to be there and with it being a Saturday during the summer holidays it was so crowded you could barely move let alone get close to the areas where the hot water was originating from.

Due to us being a large group of men and the people already there being families with small children, it wasn’t difficult to muscle our way in to other peoples pre-built holes. We made quite a large extension for everyone but the tide soon came in and washed away the large sand barricade we’d built.

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Self dug hot pools at hot water beach

A group of us then set up a game of quick cricket on the beach which we played until it was time to head back for a hike to a place called Cathedral cove. It was about a 30 minute walk down to the beach where erosion had formed a huge hole in the rock.

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Cathedral cove

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Massive rock at Cathedral cove

After a while I managed to persuade about 7 people to go in to the sea and play in the big waves even though no one had any swimming stuff or a towel. It was so worth it though; the waves were pretty big and really good for body surfing. We stayed in for a while before we had to walk back; everyone loved it.

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The sea we swam in

In the evening, a group, now of about 12 people ate food and played drinking games together at the hostel. We were staying in a really nice place, we had newly built lodges on a camp site near the beach; one of the nicest places I’d stayed in so far.

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Drinking games

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Day 48 (Sun 11/12/2011)

Today was another early start, the bus was leaving at 07:30. We were heading for our next location, Waitoma. This is the location of the famous black water tubing; floating down an underground river through caves in our own individual tyre tubes. It’s supposed to be one of the things to do in NZ.

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Steep gorge

On the bus journey between locations we stopped at a gorge, home to a former gold mine. We did a 45 minute hike here which took you through tunnels running through the mountains either side of the gorge.

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Cave walk

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Old train tracks going around the old gold mine

When we arrived at the hostel we chilled out for a bit before being picked up for our black water trip. We got taken to the centre where we got kitted up with a wetsuit and caving gear. The first stop was to collect a tube and learn how to jump in to the water on it from height. The water was pretty cold, not unbearable, apparently it was 12 / 13 degrees but I’d say it was more like 15 / 16.

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Waitomo caves

Having all been in the river we got back in the mini bus with our tubes and headed to the cave entrance. Once in the cave we had a bit of a talk about cave wildlife and then trekked through the wet darkness for a while.

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Our black water tubing gang

We did a few jumps off small waterfalls and floated down the underground river in a line in total darkness admiring the thousands of glow worms on the cave roof. Towards the end we were making our own way through by pushing off the cave walls.

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Practising my backward jump into the freezing river

The reason the trip is good is because it’s quite a unique experience combining caving, underground rivers, waterfalls, tubing and glow worms.

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The gang in the cave

After food that evening we ended up having a pretty funny night playing games until about 3am.

Posted by kendrick 15:05 Archived in New Zealand

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