What is in the water? I’m not talking about parasites or sea creatures, but more that there is something about water that draws people in. Humans are known to build cities and towns near bodies of water for the practical purpose of using it for drinking, washing, or energy. But besides that, water is beautiful, magical, refreshing. As a traveler, I’ve noticed how so many tourist attractions are centered on bodies of water. Here are some of the special watery places we’ve found ourselves splashing in while wading through New Zealand:
The oceans around New Zealand are chilly. Surfers wear wetsuits even in summer and only the bravest (children) will wade past their waists. Nevertheless, the Tasman Sea is amazing. While walking along the seemingly endless 90 mile beach, I felt dizzy as I walked parallel to the shore, with waves crashing in and the tide pulling them back out. The noise was so loud, we had to shout to each other to communicate with words. As I walked, ankle deep the sea seemed to be chasing me back toward the beach, and every once in awhile drenching me unexpectedly. Not having grown up anywhere near an ocean, I have come to love the salty smelling air and appreciate the sting that the sea water leaves on my recently shaved legs.
In Queenstown we stayed next to Lake Wakatipu. This enormous lake is shaped like a giant ogre who according to a Maori legend was burned while sleeping and this is how the lake was formed. Even more frigid than seawater, the lake was “refreshing” according to Peter who loves bathing in cold waters. We had just climbed a mountain so we both took a dip to cool off. It definitely did the trick.
We followed a dirt road to the Hokitika Gorge on our road trip up the west coast. Crossed a swing bridge that said “max 5 persons” high above the turquoise waters. The trail was covered in fine “rock flour” which is prevalent in glacial areas where the movement produces this type of sand and when suspended in water, turns it a cloudy but beautiful turquoise color. Of course, Peter decided to have a splash.
Kayaking is a great way to enjoy the water. So we hired kayaks in the Bay of Islands and paddled through shady mangroves (crocodile free) until we reached Haruru Falls. The spray was refreshing as we closed in on the falls in our tiny boats.
There is so much water in and around New Zealand, even I (a person slightly creeped out by seafood) had to taste the fresh fare from below the waves. In the town of Mangonui, we sat overlooking the bay and I tried a mussel for the very first time. Then we devoured the most delicious fish n’ chips I’ve ever tasted. The freshly caught fish was so meaty and flavorful, hardly needing any vinegar or sauce. On another occasion, Peter’s friend Aimee caught ten large snappers and Peter and helped clean and filet them for a delectable dinner of pan fried snapper and mashed potatoes.
Even on the rainy days, we were able to enjoy the water. In Taupo, we hiked (in the rain) to a hot springs, free to the public with waterfalls to massage your shoulders and pumice stones to take care of your feet. Better than any spa! We took a picture of the two of us (like my family used to always do) in one of the hot tubs that we stopped at on the way up north. Heated by a natural hot spring, it smelled sulfurous, like rotten eggs… but felt so relaxing on yet another cloudy, rainy day.
Water is amazing! Never underestimate its power and magnificence. Here is a song by another Kiwi artist. It’s fun, bouncy and lighthearted. Enjoy!