Monday, November 30, 2009

NZ - Eastern Peninsula

I slept horribly that night.  I think I could best attribute it to knowing that I had a lot to do that morning, and a lot to do the rest of the day.  My morning plans began after the spa last night, when our other German roommate returned not long after we got back to the room.  He had been to a hot springs right by Wai-O-Tapu & was espousing how great it was.  Indeed, I had just learned about this very location from one of the teens at the museum when I was there to photograph the sunset.  So of the room, only Gitti (an apparent morning person) was willing to tag along nice and early.

The hot spring was a breeze to find, with the merger of the hot water & cold stream being but only paces away from the shoulder of the roadway.  Balancing temperature was easy: it was freezing cold if you sat yourself in the movement of the cold stream, or it got progressively warmer the further up the hot spring’s stream you went.  The swimming hole also had signs all over the place warning about amoebic meningitis & how one should keep their head above-water – a task that my fishy self was sure to stick to.

It was unfathomly comfortable, apart from the moment when some cold water would mix a bit too much into the hot.  Staying still was among the better fixes for that.  We were a bit amused when a local kiwi (a rather large & hairy man in his 40s or 50s) arrived and noted that he didn’t bring a swimsuit, kindly asking whether or not we’d be comfortable with him swimming nude.  I was alright with it, knowing I’d just look away; Gitti clearly wasn’t excited of the prospect but didn’t want to decline him from the springs; and so I yelled back that he was OK so long as he didn’t mind the construction crews working on a bridge only a few meters away.  Indeed, these crews were what prompted Gitti & myself to don swimsuits in more prude American fashion, but this kiwi just shrugged, disrobed, and in he was sitting on a rock across the spring.

At one point Gitti was showing how easy it was to break rocks, and in the process of trying to do the same: I managed to cut my finger.  Not a gaping wound, but right on the  back of the joint: so whenever I bend it I’m quick to remember that mishap.  It’s not painful; just annoying.  Regardless, it wasn’t long after that that not just the front of my hands were wrinkled; but even the backs of my hands were becoming wrinkled.  It was time to skedaddle.

I dropped off Gitti at the hostel & hugged her farewell.  Then I was off to the east coast to loop around the eastern peninsula.  This was something I thought I could accomplish without much hassle, but I soon learned that outside of Auckland: the kiwis have an unfortunate tendency to close down really early; or to only be open at weird times of day.  It also didn’t help that what looks like an easy drive on a map or even in Google Earth is actually a long voyage along a twisting & turning coastal roadway.

If I recall correctly, I believe I was ultimately on the road for about 11 hours.  When I reached my first destination of Tokomaru Bay, I’d missed the last of open lodging by a couple hours.  I then had to revise my destination to Gisborne, where I fortunately came upon a place that had officially closed at 10pm, but the receptionist was still in even at 11-ish working on paperwork.

The eastern shoreline is quite beautiful, with the length of the drive taking even longer thanks to my many many stops to take photos.  Furthermore, my hour-long round trip drive to/from the East Cape Lighthouse along a dirt road – an intensely fun drive – added to the time; and the ~30 minutes up/down hike to the lighthouse furthered the duration.  Despite my exhaustion from driving: it was worth it.

Along the way, and indeed throughout all of New Zealand, there are plenty of signs warning about wandering stock (that is: livestock).  There was one point during my drive where I turned around a curve and there was a cow just standing there, staring at me nonchalantly.  I couldn’t help but smile: something just seemed so amusing about that.

No comments:

Post a Comment