Jamie was up and watching the sunrise while I snatched a few more precious minutes of sleepy bliss, snug in my rather moreish sleeping bag. Our camper van is equipped with duvet, blankets and pillows for four people but I think I will stick with the sleeping bag I brought.
The van is similar to the one we had in Australia but it has got a whole lot more sophisticated with equipment that slides easily into place rather than having to be assembled. We have our own WiFi, microwave, gas hob and fridge as well as radios/sound system front and back and the all important USB sockets.
It was a another blue sky day.
When Jamie returned with tales of a brilliant beach just 25m away I had to go and see for myself. He did not lie; white sand, little islets just off shore and a sparkling blue sea. I took some photos.
We breakfasted on cereals and then set off early to catch the tide at out next destination, the not so aptly named Hot Water Beach. It was some twenty minutes south along a meandering coast road that had very little traffic so early on Saturday morning.
As we descended into the little bay, we could clearly see the steam rising off the surf. Parking up we opted to go and see before slipping into trunks and towel. As we neared an outcrop of rocks set next to a sandstone cliff we could see a few other early risers, busy with spades digging holes in the sand. The idea is that they fill up with water heated by the thermal activity beneath. Some were already wallowing, others were frantically digging to claim the best spots. We dipped out fingers into one of the pools, hmmm……. not so warm as expected. Then a wave came and swept through the excavations sweeping away all items of clothing and causing the occupants to raise their bodies on finger tips and toes clear of the offending sea water.
We decided not to bother and headed back along the beach to the van.
Next destination was Mount Maunganui. It is a pleasure to drive in NZ, the scenery is diverse and wonderful, each bend opens up a new vista of verdant valleys, intriguing ancient volcanoes and just stunning seascapes. Cows everywhere and very few sheep. You won’t drive far in this country without coming across a rugby pitch, it’s heaven!
We stopped several times; some to take photos, once to have a quick wander a round a local Saturday market and another to have our rogue tyre fixed. The trye was deflated by a screw firmly embedded in the tread. Passing a tyre fitting establishment we called in and explained our predicament. It was repaired with no charge. I think I have may have misjudged these All Blacks, they are not members of Satan’s rugby machine as I have always thought, dedicated to the destruction of all that is good and English. They are really quite pleasant and nice, but obviously don’t have a clue about how to make a dollar.
Mount Manganui is just outside Tauranga City and though not massively high, can be clearly seen from far away. It is a sea-side resort that has an air of sophistication about it (a good place for us to stop then). We easily found a free parking space (they are all free) and changed into shorts and T-shirts as the day was getting quite hot.
We opted for the more direct and therefore steeper of the routes to the summit. A lot of sweat was sacrificed before panting heavily we reached the top. Yes, the views all around on a hot sunny day were further improved by a sparkling azure sea on three sides. It seems it is a must for all visitors to make this climb, some even run up it. Well, they ran past us, but I can’t vouch for when they were out of sight. They were probably throwing up in the bushes, and that’s probably why it was so green!
As on the way up, we took our time on the way down. We stopped at the foot of the mountain to check the van into a small trailer park. We were luck to secure a spot next to the beach.
Next we wandered into the small town, found a place to eat and ate two enormous burgers washed down with suitable refreshments. A spot of window shopping followed before we ventured onto the beach and crossing a thin sliver of sand climbed onto a little offshore island. Along with several other tourists we explored its wonders.
We returned to the van by way of the water’s edge, Jamie in bare feet and wet shorts and I searching for shells along the high tide line (none found that would have interested Sue). I spent the next couple of hours in the van listening to rock music, while Jamie went for a wander.
It was Saturday night so we ventured into town again, stopping to watch a Super Twelve rugby game on the TV at a sports bar. We got chatting to a couple who were interested in where we were from etc. and it helped to pass the time. We moved on to grab a couple of subs from Subway and ate them at tables outside. It was quite a balmy evening and we wondered where every one was. All was very peaceful in downtown Maunganui.
Returning to the van Jamie spent some time splatting the mosquitoes that had somehow managed to infiltrate our defences. We played cards until sleep interrupted play.