November 23rd, 2008 – by: Rubbertoe
Hot Water Beach minus the spa pools :-(
When you read about Mercury Bay on every guidebook, a big must is always a visit to the very famous Hot Water Beach. Every day, lots of visitors will turn up at the beach, armed with a big shovel, and dig up their own very personal spa pool, which fills up with hot water from underground geothermal springs. If you don’t have a shovel like me, you could always jump in someone else’s pool and be sociable, don’t worry about them… they will soon leave and go dig another pool somewhere else. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to put my cunning plan into action because I didn’t check the tide-timetable and reached the beach when the location of the hot springs was submerged under high tide. However, I did go for a quick swim, my first in New Zealand, and did step on a few hot sandy patches, but please don’t follow my ‘foot steps’ so to speak, because it is slightly dangerous, as I was made aware later that the hot springs can reach 64 C!
It was around 7ish when I got out of the water, a bit too late to start the 45 minutes walk to Cathedral Cave, another ‘must do’ in Mercury Bay.
So I drove to Hahei and stopped in the main car park overlooking the beach. A young group of travellers had my same intentions of sleeping there for the night; they set fireworks on the beach, wrestled each other to the ground and juggled fire poi, God knows what they were drinking or smoking! I wasn’t eager to find out and sat back to watch the show, with a beer, cooking my first meal on my newly acquired gas stove placed on the foldable table. Now I love cooking, but this time I was running low on ingredients and managed to put together a plate of rice with yet more sardines in mustard sauce, with a side of Chinese lettuce stir fried in garlic, chopped tomato and 10-days-old hoi sin sauce… not store in a fridge… It was an unusual dish, not one to be proud of but certainly not inedible like some other crap I came up with when I’ve been short of ingredient. I could have left the hoi sin sauce out though, which made for an uncomfortable sleep, I’ll say no more…
Next morning the weather wasn’t as nice as I had hoped for, still it was good enough to go for a long walk to one of the nicest beaches of the Coromandel Peninsula, Cathedral Cove.
Popped my swimmies on, filled the water bottle in the public toilets and off I went. On the way, I checked out two other equally nice bays, Stingray Bay and Gemstone Bay. Cathedral Cove is indeed very nice and features a massive limestone arch/cave which has the shape of a cathedral, with some imagination. The Bay is sheltered and the water is crystal clear, I enjoyed a lovely snooze on the soft white sand, soaking up the sun… just what the doctor ordered!
Sting Ray Bay