Leaving Mahamudra presented me with my first hitch hiking experience. My mom would kill me! I strapped all my worldly possessions onto my back and proceeded to stand on the side of the road feeling like an idiot. Should I stick my thumb out? Wave? Try to look as non threatening as possible? (that’s easy when you have a bag of fruit and some flip flops hanging from your pack). I decided to just start walking and see what happened.
My destination was 30 miles away and I thought I’d rather walk there than go back to the Buddhist centre, so I set off on my way. I walked and waved like a fool for a good 45 minutes until a nice German couple in a camper van picked me up. Tina and Reinhardt even took me to a gorgeous beach en route to Coromandel town. I’d say the first hitch was a huge success.
Once in Coromandel, I got the cheapest campsite I could find, which wasn’t that cheap at all. “Holiday Parks” seem to be a big thing here, and they’re more geared toward luxury campers or RV types instead of those of us who just want a chunk of dirt to put their damn tent on. Anyway, it was right in town and I enjoyed exploring for the afternoon and ending the day with wood-fired pizza and a beer.
The next day I took a bus to Whitianga and wanted to kiss the ground once I got there–another very windy, fast, narrow-roaded trip, indeed. Whitianga is pretty close to the main area attractions of Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach so I rented a bike for the day to ferry over and explore. Cathedral Cove was beautiful, but ruined a bit, I felt, by all the people. It’s hard to appreciate natural beauty when people are yelling and splashing and doing all the sorts of annoying things people do. But still, it was a gorgeous site. And I could enjoy it even though my ego was bruised after getting my butt kicked by two lesbian grandmas on matching bikes going up the giant hill to the Cove. Can’t win ’em all!
After biking a few more miles I found myself at Hot Water Beach and took a while to master the art of digging a hot pool that wasn’t either freezing cold or scalding. It was a fine balance. The water under the sand is still hot from volcanic activity 5-9 million years ago, or something crazy like that, and it burned my feet when I walked across it. I soaked my aching muscles in my hot pool for a while before heading back to Whitianga and preparing for the bus trip to Auckland the next day.
Thus concluded my time on the North Island for the time being. I was able to catch up with some Vermont friends who were in Auckland at the same time before flying to Christchurch, which was really nice. The hard part about travelling is that it’s hard to make friends when you’re continuously moving around. It was an exhausting few days but refreshing and fun, too. And now I’ve got South Island on the brain! With 33% more land and 75% fewer people, it sounds pretty perfect. Stay tuned for bike trip adventures.