After about 3 days in Auckland, Eugenio and I realized that our initial plan was utter crap. The idea seemed like a good one: find work and temporary housing in New Zealand’s biggest city, ride out the cold winter by earning/saving money so that we didn’t have to stress about finding work when the summer came. That was all and good, until we got here and realized that the cost of living in Auckland is so high that any earnings from a temporary/seasonal job would be quickly spent. Not particularly keen on the idea of dipping into our savings, we decided to figure something else out. Plan B? Head East to the Coromandel Peninsula, which has relatively mild winters, and WWOOF it.
Willing Workers On Organic Farms (WWOOF) is a world-wide organization which puts travelers in touch with local farmers. The idea is that in exchange for 20-25hrs/week, you’ll receive full room and board along with an incredible opportunity to live with the locals and learn a bit about agriculture, gardening, bee-keeping, building, you name it. It was a similar organization led me to meet my beloved family in Tuscany back in the summer of 2011 (I can’t believe that was over 2 years ago).
Anyway, a quick search led us to a family-run Macadamia orchard near Hahei, a town with a population of 270 in the winter and 7,000 in the summer. It’s a holiday retreat for many Kiwis, but we took full advantage of being here in the off-season; we had it all to ourselves. Stunning coastline, gorgeous mountains, clean air, and peace & quiet. Lots and lots of quiet. Bedtime was frequently 9pm because there was really nothing else to do once the sun went down.
But there was much to do during the day! The beach down the road was home to a cockle and pipi bed (read: types of clams I’ve never heard of). The beach 10 minutes away was home to natural hot springs. The Pacific Coast was full of gorgeous Snapper, Gurnard, and Kahawai just waiting to be hooked. An organic garden with beautiful lettuces, beets, herbs, beans, lemons, tamarillos, avocadoes. When asked if we could stay until mid-September, we couldn’t think of any reason not to!
So it was in this little slice of paradise that we planted for the past 2 months, enjoying a much slower, healthy, wholesome pace. The following are a few photos from around the Orchard and in the Hahei area (click on a photo and scroll through):
Being in the Southern Hemisphere means that early August is the dead of winter. The wind howls, the ocean is numbing, and it gets dark at 5pm. You can move your swim suit to the back of your drawer; it’s not going to get any use for the next few months.
Unless you’re on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula.
Hot Water Beach (yes, that is the official name) is home to two underground hot springs. I know, I know. Hot Springs aren’t exactly the most earth shattering topic to write about. So what makes these ones blog-worthy?
First, the fact that you’ve gotta check your tide tables. Second, they come with a stunning ocean view.
The springs are covered by the surf for the majority of the day. However, at low tide the ocean recedes far enough to make them accessible. Grab a shovel and BAM! Instant spa!!
The water at its exit point is 64C (147F) – too hot for most. But simply dig a few feet from the center and the cold water from the ocean mixes with the hot water to create the temperature of your choosing.
Don’t get too comfortable – when the tide comes back in, that water’s freeeeeeezing!