With all of the New Zealand pre-flight briefs completed our CP are now ready to fly. However, with circa 200+ cadets in CTC New Zealand at any one time it's not always possible to schedule us all to fly on the same day. To add to that, some of our instructors (mine included) are currently undergoing training of their own. Everyone has to learn / develop at some point right? Thus, with only 2 of our group scheduled to fly the rest of us head out for the day.. and what a day it was too!
With around a two hour drive ahead of us, Euan had heard/found out about a great walking trail in Karangahake a few kilometers off our route. The Gorge was beautiful featuring winding roads around a mountain with a river running parallel (as pictured). Having found the car park we decided to take a walk along one of the many trails and opted for old mine car tracks.
The walk took us through a dark tunnel (as per the first photo above) with nothing but orange lamps on the ceiling to light our way and despite the long walk, we managed to occupy ourselves by making echos (such big kids). On reaching the light at the end of the tunnel my eyes certainly took a little while to adjust but the view was spectacular (as per second photo). The walking trail continued right around the edge of mountain side to Ian pointed out (northern/yorkshire-ish accent) "If this were in UK, Health and Safety would have field day" due to the fact there were no barriers protecting us from slipping from the path. On returning to the car we switched drivers and continued to Hot Water Beach.
The rest of our route took us over the top and around mountain after mountain. The views were just out of this world and I can't recall ever seeing sky so blue and grass so green! The photo above is from the top of final mountain a few kilometers from the beach. Sadly, I didn't take many others as we were keen to get to the water as soon as the tide went out. Having heard about the Hot Water Beach from TripAdvisor and a few other cadets in both my own and other CPs, I was surprised when we got there. The sea water is far from hot, but slap bang in the middle of the beach was a sign saying "CAUTION. HOT WATER WILL BURN." accompanied by tons of steam rising from the sand.
Ian and I took a walk to the nearby café to hire a spade or two plus grab an ice cream - it would be rude not to eh! - before returning to the rest of the group. We had arrived at the beach just as the tide had started to go out which meant we had plenty of time to enjoy some time in a hot pool of our creation. You'll see in the video that we took it in turns to dig a trench in the sand which later filled with VERY hot water from beneath. It was pretty cool I have to say, although there was certainly a lot of hopping from foot-to-foot because turning over the sand brought the heat to the surface which made it incredibly hot to touch!
After a few relaxing hours in the hot water, riding the waves and sun bathing we decided to head home. Each of us thoroughly enjoyed it and will definitely return at some point.