Ah. Back to Auckland, we were not looking forward to this as it hadn’t impressed us much on our first stay but now we were to be in a hostel in the centre and with a mass bunch of kiwi experience fellow travellers. That night there was to be a pub crawl informed by the driver, a legendary weekly crawl where thousands had been known to take part, hmm.
Booking in to our hostel we were faced with our first night in a shared room with strangers as prior we had been lucky to secure private rooms. A four bed was offered and we waited for our new bunk bed neighbours to arrive knowing they came off the same bus as us so we would at least have the bay of islands trip in common. Once we’d all made ourselves at home we introduced ourselves to Tina and Jesper, another Swedish couple who being seasoned dormers had already secured all the power sockets for recharging. Mental note for next time upon arrival in a shared room. Jesper and Tina would not be joining us and the rest of (what could be) Auckland on the bar crawl so we prepared ourselves for a quiet return and set out everything we’d need to not disturb them whatever time we got back and after a quick burrito, and being sent back to get our passports by the doorman, we were off.
After picking up our crawl tickets we spotted some familiar faces, the Dutch and German guys we’d met in Waheiki were still in Auckland and had joined the crawl as well. We caught up over a drink or two and then saw more of our fellow kiwi travellers fill the bar. A proud moment as we actually had two groups of friends to mingle amongst. Then the fun started, the evening was hosted by a travel company and games were held to give out prizes for activities around New Zealand, the crowd was all ears.
Challenge no.1 involved 4 people eating a dry weetabix with Tabasco sauce, first one to chew and swallow the whole thing would be crowned champion. Up stepped Sam, game for anything, he came first to be awarded the prize of; a free trip back to the bay of islands! Okay so team tactics, don’t just put your hand up for any game, target the prize you want. Andi and I favoured the zorbing or canyon swing. 20mins later a call for couples to enter the next game to win zorbing, and where was Andi? In the toilet. It took awhile to organise entrants for that game as there was a requirement for the man or at least one member to be wearing trousers. A few single people volunteered to enter but when hearing the rules decided against playing with a stranger. However two men cheerily joined, not sure if they were mates or just met. Andi returned and we finally got to enter, the rules had to be explained several times but basically I was given a wrapped piece of bubble gum, had to push it up one leg of Andi’s inside his trousers, retrieve it from his crotch after he undid his flies, unwrap it, then chew on the gum once putting the wrapper back down the other leg to reach his other ankle. The winner would be the first to have the wrapper at the bottom and blow a bubble, only I can’t blow bubbles. Therefore Andi started chewing the gum at crotch point.
The game took ages. The judge abandoned the wrapper down the other leg race and basically just wanted to see a bubble blown to get the game finished. Complaints of duff bubble gum was heard as four people feebly blew and popped the smallest of bubbles. The bar was erupting with laughter and shouts to hurry up. The judge gave all teams one last chance to blow the biggest bubble they could muster, and Andi won! Woohoo a free prize of zorbing in Rotorua. After the excitement wained I then realised I just unzipped andi’s crotch and casually put my hand down his pants in front of a whole pub full of people. Standard.
contestants had to put plastic clothes pegs on their face
We headed to another bar with a mass group of people, at least over a hundred people but not the thousands mentioned in the stories. Another game was played where contestants had to put plastic clothes pegs on their face and the winner would be the person with the most pegs attached. No clipping to beards or ears etc. We were a fair few drinks in to the evening and knowing our next bus pick up was early the next day we decided to head back to the hostel also in the knowledge we’d probably have sleeping bunk neighbours meaning we wouldn’t be able to turn the lights on or make any noise. Tomorrow we headed to hot water beach.
On the way back from the north there were rumours of people’s bookings for onward travel not being secured and mounting the bus for hot water beach even more people were told they were on standby and a seat couldn’t be guaranteed. There was a rush to get on and hopes of hungover people not turning up, then a 2nd smaller bus appeared and everyone was able to continue. This smaller bus brought with it a new driver, Brent or Beaver as he would be known.
More on him later.
Hot water beach was a good spot to visit as mentioned by lots of people. However you will never believe the actual temperature of the water until you go and dig it up yourself. It is a phenomenon where at some points on the beach at low tide you can dig and hot water will surface. On the walk to the beach with a shovel a sign stated the hot water temperature ranged FROM 65degree centigrade upwards. Really? Upon arrival at low tide the beach was a little packed, lots of people sat in already dug up pools, some abandoned but the water seemed cool. Then seeing people hop in and out of hot water we knew the right spot and began to dig, oh my it was hot. With the tide coming in some pool walls were falling down but the sea water actually helped cool down the hot water so it was bearable to sit in. A successful bath had been dug. Now off to Cathedral Cove. A quick bus ride and then instructions of a 45min walk down to the beach. I am always wary of long distance walks due to my arthritic knee and on this trip I was used to Andi’s slow pace from incessant photographing, whenever we had a photo stop we were always the last people back on the bus. So I intended to move as quickly down the track and leave the beach earlier than everyone else knowing I would be overtaken. At times it was a steep trek and we were only wearing walking sandals but the end point was worth it with cathedral cove being a private little couple of beaches joined by a tunnel through a rock point. A large boulder off shore had enticed some people to swim out and jump off it, Albin was the leader as I later learned he intends to jump in as many pieces of water as he can. After a wander and a few photos we headed back up the steep hill and then to our accommodation for the night, a 7 bed dorm.
Each dorm had a double bunk and we made friends with the 5 other neighbours for the night which included Donna, Leanne and Jen from Staffordshire. It was a warm evening and we had fish and chips and drank a few beers outside chatting with Tina and Jesper until the hostel owner came round at 10.30 to quieten the rowdy ones. Most of the hostels are dry as they have their own bar but a few let you drink your own alcohol just as long as you observe their quiet time whenever that may be. I found it annoying when a hostel has a quiet time for the laundry, the worst was in Auckland where the machines were cordoned off for staff most of the day and then it was closed overnight. The best was Franz josef where they have a 24hour laundry room with a sofa! Party room!
Next up, caving.