Hot Water Beach on the eastern coast of the Coromandel Peninsula is apparently rated as Number 4 among the world’s top 10 ‘bathing experiences’ – I shudder to think what the other nine may be, or for that matter even to imagine how the judging was done and on whose evidence. I do, however, remember a club in Hamburg many years ago where members of the audience could sit in a tub and have their backs scrubbed on stage if they were brave enough (no, I wasn’t – but I could name names if pressed) – that must surely rate as one of the ten?
Anyway, Hot Water Beach is a totally different experience; all you have to do there is stand on the beach at low tide and the volcanic gases bubble up through the sand at 60oC, which is hot enough to broil your toes if you stand still long enough. Those who know the score come along with shovels and dig their own Jacuzzis whilst the waves do their best to spoil the fun. Another unique Kiwi experience not to be missed.
New Zealanders really love their tractors. I’m not entirely sure, and haven’t done a count, but reckon that every adult male Kiwi must own at least one tractor. Big tracked ones, small grey antique ones – it doesn’t really matter what your particular penchant may be, there’s a tractor to suit each and every one in New Zealand. On our travels we’ve seen them just about everywhere: in fields (obviously), on the roofs of buildings, even as ornaments in gardens – a sort of gnome substitute. In a couple of the towns we’ve visited it seemed as though the only thing you could buy was tractors and things to fit on your tractor – you know, furry dice, seat covers, go faster tractor stripes, that sort of thing. When we get home, perhaps I should get a tractor?
A flat tyre in Whangerei almost marred today’s drive from the Coromandel up through Auckland to the Bay of Islands – fortunately the spare was serviceable, the jack worked, I avoided having a heart attack and the guys in the local tyre repair shop were really helpful . Ninety minutes and a little perspiration later and we were back on the road.