July 24-26: A weekend away from the city

After class on Friday, a group of ten (1 kiwi, 1 Norwegian, and 8 Americans) headed out of Auckland on a somewhat spontaneous weekend trip. We rented two cars and just drove (on the left side of the road!) to the coast, with no set plans. We arrived late and found a nice hostel on Buffalo Beach. No restaurants were opened so we ate a petrol station dinner of grilled cheese and chips. While many were tired and wanted to get to bed, my Norwegian friend Mads (pronounced like Motts) and I decided to take a short trip to town to observe the Whitianga nightlife. We just sat in the corner of a bar and watched these interesting "townies" bust hilarious moves on the dance floor... it was obvious that we were far from Auckland.

After a good night sleep in the hostel, we set out early to hike to Coromandel Cove. This place cannot be described in words and my pictures barely do it justice. We couldn't have picked a better "Winter" day to go; the soft sand, warm water and blue skies were the perfect end to our first week of class.

After we hesitantly left the cove, we checked into our second hostel, had a nice lunch of fish and chips (or fush and chups as kiwis like to say), borrowed a shovel from the hostel and drove to reach Hot Water Beach at 3 p.m. for low-tide. When the tide goes out, people head to the beach to dig holes in the sand and allow them to fill up with warm water creating natural hot tubs. Some volcanos made underground reservoirs of superheated water and over time, this water can escape to the surface. There are two hot springs at the beach that release water as hot as 147º Fahrenheit, so some spots were too hot to sit in, but once you dug the right hole you never wanted to get out.

That evening, we returned to our hostel which was much different from the last one. With no heat and ten rickety beds crammed into a long corridor, we made the best of it, endured the cold night and headed home in the morning. We had a nice scenic ride and stopped at an organic cafe on the beach for lunch and ice cream and were able to snap a few more pictures of the scenery before going back to the bustling city.

Overall, the trip was a huge success and it just makes me want to travel more and see as much of New Zealand as I possibly can. I have promised myself that many more weekend trips will happen throughout the semester. This one was just a small taste of what we can experience.

There is so much to see and do here, I wish I could grasp it all.

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