Once back on the coast of the Bay of Plenty, we spent a couple of days in Whakatane. It wasn’t until near the end of our time in New Zealand that we found out that the accurate pronunciation of Maori words and names with “wh” is actually an “f” sound. This explained why there were several places that sounded like curse words. Say Whakatane out loud three times fast pronouncing the “Wh” as an “F” and you’ll see what I mean.
The last stop was the Coromandel Peninsula. A gorgeous area that juts out into the Pacific Ocean just south of Auckland.
One of the hot spots, literally and figuratively, was called Hot Water Beach. It featured hot springs that fed the beach where it meets the ocean. People go there with mini-spade in hand to dig holes on the beach so they can sit and relax in the hot sand.
It sounded like fun so we borrowed a spade from the folks who owned the BNB and hit the beach. Once we learned where the springs were, Cindy and I simply dug our feet a couple of inches into the sand to find it was indeed hot. Really hot. It was so hot people were laboring to mix in the cooler ocean water by digging channels into their spring-fed holes or by taking buckets of sea water and pouring it in. In the end, we decided not to go through the trouble so we just enjoyed watching the scene.
Just north of there we took a hike to Cathedral Cove.
Near the north end of the Coromandel Peninsula was the Driving Creek Railroad, a narrow gauge railroad which zigzags its way up a mountain side.
On our last day on South Island I met a local who asked me if I’d gotten off the beaten track while in New Zealand. It was a great question but I had to think about it before answering that yes, I had. Always on the lookout for that rarely visited great nook or cranny, it’s hard to do when there’s so much to see and there are so many ‘don’t miss’ places to visit. Getting away from other tourists and the much frequented attractions are the goal of many travelers, though the reason tourists go to the most visited places may be because they are, in fact, some of the best places to see. And it’s easy to be fooled by a guidebook’s call on a ‘hidden gem’ or ‘secret spot’; if it was hidden or a secret, it is no longer since you and millions of other readers just found out about it. Although New Zealand is not an especially large country, places of interest are spread out requiring some degree of effort to get to many of them. Though there’s still much we haven’t seen, we felt like we did New Zealand right. Special thanks go to our Kiwi friends, Sue and Dave, for guiding us with a blueprint for exploring their vast and special country.