A Mud Bath and the trip to Orewa
This morning we had to pack up and get ready for the trip to Orewa Beach and our final few days. Before getting on the road we decided that we were going to pamper ourselves for a few hours by visiting the thermal spa known as Hell's Gate. Ironically it is New Zealand's only Maori owned geothermal park and yet it is also the only one with an English name. The mud baths and mineral pools are supposed to have healing properties and the cures have been sought after.
To begin you are taen to a private mud pool which is not really a mud pool as the mud sits at the bottom of the cloudy water. However, a little digging around the bottom of the pool and your fingers sink into a muddy, clay, mainly smooth paste. The pool is warm not boiling and after smearing your body with the muddy mixture your skin feels exquisitely soft. It is increadibly relaxing but you aren't able to spend too long in it. Once your time is up you have to have a freezing cold shower. A shower is needed to clean the mud off of course but the reason for the iciness is to get your body temperature back to normal. After the cold shower you move onto the mineral pools which are public. It's not like a swimming pool so there are not hoardes of people around and fortunately we timed it quite well so that there were only a couple of other people there when we were so for a lot of the time we had the mineral pool to ourselves. The heat in the pool varied from one end to the other by a few degrees. Another soothing and calming experience, just perfect after the last few days and the upcoming excitement.
The drive north was eventless but beautiful. The drive through Auckland was a bit of a shock after the past few weeks of travelling through forests and over mountains. We had been warned that the division between the traffic on the bridge changes so that sometimes there are 5 lanes in and sometimes 6, we had also been warned that the drive in or out of Auckland around rush hour can take a minimum of an hour. It was only as we got closer to the city that we realised we were going to arrive at about rush hour! Argh. Thankfully, Stan, Stan the satnav man and Var got us through without too much drama.
I have to admit I wasn't looking forward to Orewa Beach. I thought it would be very quiet and that there would be nothing to do there. It was not our first choice for camping at because we hoped to be closer to Auckland. However when we arrived and found our site we realised just how beautiful it was. Our site had an uniterrupted view of the beach. The camp was the biggest yet and there were a few permanent sites so it was obviously a popular place for New Zealanders as well. After we had booked in we decided to go out into Orewa to have a look around and grab a bite to eat. Compared to some of the other places we had been it seemed quite lively. There was a place ironically called Boulevard of Dreams whcih had live entertainment and served food so we stopped here for a while. In a lot of ways we wished we hadn't. Our food order got lost and then there was no fish available so I ordered the ribs....the strangest dish was brought out to me; ribs yes but there were 3 types of potato, wedges, mash and boiled, carrots and broccoli with cheese sauce! Strange and inedible. We had a few drinks went food shopping and went back to the camp.