I apologize that this series is going on for SO long! But I want to get these memories down to be able to look back at later. And I can’t help but not narrow down the photos too too much! I promise, only one more post after this 🙂
After our incredible morning hike, we went back to our room to change, because it had become warm and sunny. Let me emphasize the blessing of that statement: when we planned our trip for New Zealand during the winter, I was expecting everywhere we went to be cold and blustery. I thought I would have to be bundled up the entire trip, trying to keep out the wind and cold, like the rest of the summer in Australia had been. New Zealand is even a little further south than where we were in Melbourne, so I didn’t even think there was a chance of us having nice weather. However, God is good and gracious to us, because for me – a perpetual heat-seeker – having a 70 degree day at the beach meant so much!! The first and last days of our trip weren’t cold, but they weren’t warm either. But for the day that we had planned to be at four different beach locations, God blessed us with WARMTH!! I was so thankful!!
So, we changed into shorts and t-shirts, and then stopped by the convenience store to pick up a picnic lunch. Remember how, despite how epic this location was, there weren’t a lot of dining options. Fortunately, we were able to find some food at the gas station, and I was even able to find some gluten-free options (not a luxury I could expect in the United States). I bought salami and cheddar cheese rice crackers along with some fruit, and I can’t remember what Whit had, but it was probably similar. We both got ice cream cones too, since it was so warm and sunny. 🙂
We picnicked on the sand and then spent a couple of hours exploring the beach. This beach, like a lot of beaches in New Zealand apparently, was bookended by two hilly cliffs (I never knew what to call them!). We walked to one end of the beach to see the cliff up close (it has lots of plant life growing on it as you can see), and we found pink sand and a rope swing. We climbed on the rocks and explored the rocky waters. It was a lot of fun!
Look at that pink sand! The whole beach wasn’t like this, just the one end. It was strange and interesting.
The water was SO clear!! Whit was obsessed with it, and I can’t say I hated it!
This is my favorite picture of us from the whole trip. We just had so much fun together on this day!
Hot Water Beach
There is a current of steam that heats up underground water, and these currents come right up under the sand as a natural hot spring. The water is VERY hot, and can be found by digging in the sand close to the water’s edge at low tide. If you rent a shovel, you can walk right up to the beach (there’s no fee), and start digging your own personal hot tub!
Since the water is hotter than a typical hot tub (scalding), we decided it would be best to dig in an area where a swell of hot water met a current of cool water from the ground or the ocean. It was like digging a wading pool at the beach in the summer, but required a bit more technique to get the right spot!
It seemed that many people had found the perfect balance of temperature, or could withstand much hotter water than us. We wanted to dig our own area though, instead of using someone else’s, so we tried a few spots and then worked to get it just right. It ended up being a little too cold in some spots, and too hot in others, but since the weather was so nice, we weren’t freezing or anything, and we just tried to avoid the very hot spots. It worked out well for a completely natural occurrence! It was a fun adventure and something we were glad to do since there probably aren’t too many places in the world you can do this!
The Lost Spring Thermal Pools & Day Spa
I had already planned most of our trip shortly before we left for Australia, but one night I decided to browse Pinterest just to make sure there wasn’t anything spectacular in the area that we were missing out on. I stumbled across this pin that I had found years prior:
I clicked on the link and it took me to the website for the Lost Spring Thermal Pools. Similar to Hot Water Beach, there are natural hot springs under the site, and it actually took decades for them to build the Lost Spring because they had to re-drill several times, but they ended up completing it so all of the pools are heated completely naturally from the hot springs beneath the earth.
There are several pools that are all interconnected, so you can swim between them and find warmer or cooler spots based on your preferences. It was like a warm swimming pool, with some areas almost as warm as a hot tub, but in a beautiful setting.
I was actually able to get us discounted entrance fees because they were having a winter sale. We were traveling when the vouchers when on sale, but as soon as our plane landed (for our first layover in NZ) I found some wifi and was able to purchase them! A one-hour pass is usually more than $30 per person, but I was able to get two full-day passes for $60 total, meaning we could stay as long as we wanted to.
One of the pools was more separated, and it was as hot as a hot tub. We went back and forth between there and the cooler, but still warm, waters next to it as we enjoyed a nice cocktail (me) and glass of wine (Whit). We didn’t arrive until the sun was about to set, so we missed the warmth from earlier in the day, but it worked out since we were at a hot spring after all!
It was a lovely experience, and I just wish we had been there when it was slightly warmer, or when the sun was still shining, though the waters were definitely still warm enough to be comfortable despite the cool 60-some-degree air. Definitely another highly recommend New Zealand activity if you’re traveling with your spouse or want a girls day out!