Sunday, May 3, 2009

Haka, Beaches, Spa, Tedium, and dirt-biking.

Covering march 26th to April 2nd

My strongest memory of Rotorua is the smell. The entire town smells like rotten eggs. Geo-thermal activity and all that. I didn't spend more than two nights there, and I decided against going to see the geysers. Instead, I went to a Haangi, a Maori culture re-enactment and feast. The Haka is the Maori war-dance and it is a fearsome sight, even when performed as a re-enactment.

Having grown sick of hitch-hiking, I took a bus up to the Coromandel peninsula. This was much easier, but I was still frustrated with my lack of freedom in my movements. I was considering how to get to the hot water beach and cathedral cove when I met Caren from Holland who had a car. Perfect!
First stop was Cathedral Cove, a beautiful and remote, but very popular beach.

Somebody where getting married just off shore and my trusty tele-lens was put to use once again. Rounds of applause rose up from the beach when they snogged.

Then, when low tide came, we headed to Hot Water Beach.
At low tides on Hot Water Beach it's possible to dig a hole with a shovel and create for yourself a nice, hot pool. And when I say hot, I mean HOT! The water is heated by geo-thermal activity and is scalding in places. We found a sweet spot though.

In the evening we went to a nearby spa who had a backpackers offer, including a meal, of 35$. Awesome!
When darkness came they turned on the pool lights, which made Caren look mesmerizing.

The 29th of march was a sunday. The backpackers we were staying at had free kayaks and Caren and I took one for a paddle out to a nearby cove, lounged there for one or two hours, and then paddled back. I was happy to learn that Caren was going to Auckland that evening and would give me a ride. First though, I had to pick up my camera at the police station where some kind soul had left it after finding it at the beach where I'd forgotten it the night before. A tense morning that was.

Celebrating my regained camera.

In Auckland, I hooked up with a girl I'd met on my last visit to Christchurch as she had a couch I could stay on. Bojana studies psychology, and I vividly recall one animated discussion we had about whether psychology is a science. We agreed that it wasn't a science in the true sense of the word, and Bojana felt that the field would move forward much quicker if it didn't try to masquerade as such. I could go off on a long and digressive tale of why psychology ain't a science, but I shall resist. Suffice to say that it's practically impossible to do empirical experiments on the human mind, and advances in psychology are made via more philosophical means in my opinion.

Bojana's mind is engaged in Deep Thought. Something it does well.

I only stayed in Auckland for one night as I wanted to explore northland thoroughly before going to Australia. Big cities hold no allure for me anyway, especially when I'm relying on public transportation, so after a nice game of chess I caught the bus to Whangarei. This was were disaster struck. I lost my diary. Thinking back, I must have put it on the ground when getting out of Bojana's car and left it there. When travelling like I do, I carry a minimum of stuff. The downside is that everything i carry is dear to me, and losing that diary was like loosing 2½ months of memories. I will allow myself a big, public, FUCK!!! on that account

In Whangarei I stayed at a nice backpackers/homestay. I had two huge, awesome lamb steaks for dinner, accompanied by salad, and went to bed. Yes. Food is important to me.
In the morning I tried booking a dive at the Poor Knights Island for the next day. Regrettably, the weather forecast wasn't bright and I decided to head north instead and do the dive on my way back down. So, I decided, I would accept the offer of a lift north to The Farm, a wonderful backpackers with heaps of opportunities to kill time in fun ways. I planned some horseback riding and dirt-biking for the next day, but when dawn came the weather had conspired against me again. I spent that entire day waiting. waiting. waiting.
It's remarkable how quick mood-changes come about when travelling. You can wake up in the morning feeling great, and by mid-day, with all your plans shattered and nothing to do, you feel like kicking someone. Then, by afternoon, having made new plans, everything is rainbows and bunny-rabbits again. Apparantly, this is common for most of the backpackers i've met. The good thing is that I'm starting to learn that whatever shit I'm in right now won't last, and tomorrow the sun will rise again. Maybe behind a grazing horse.

Thursday before I left the, I went dirt-biking. Was it Hair-raising? yes. Difficult? extremely. Dangerous? definitely. Fun? Hell yes! We started out with rounding up horses and then went roaring through the landscape to their dirt-bike track. Getting airborne on a motorbike made me reconsider my sanity.

As it turned out I didn't end up going very far that day at all. In fact, I spent the night just one k from the farm with the good people of Northland Dive who I was going diving with the next day.

Remember the wetas I told you about?
That's all for now!

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