I always get a bit nervous when I’m about to join a new group of people – new job, new small group at church or in the most recent case, a new group of tour-mates. It’s like the first day of school – will anyone want to be my friend, will anyone share with me, will I be the big nerdy outcast of the whole group?
Luckily this isn’t 3rd grade and everyone on my trip was absolutely amazing. We had no complainers, no wimps and no divas in our internationally diverse crowd. To be honest, I was really surprised everyone was so pleasant, because all the trips I’ve ever lead have had at least one whiny, dramatic schmuck. (Turns out, to the surprise of no one but me, it was probably yours truly. But well get to that in a few days.)
Day one with Flying Kiwi was not a gentle slide into adventure mode. Instead, we left Auckland at about 10 a.m. and drove straight (back!) up to Cathedral Cove the Coromandel Peninsula, where I immediately jumped into the ocean with Cathedral Cove Sea Kayaking. The scenery was stunning from where we launched to the semi-challenging paddle through turquoise marine preserve out to the nostril rock and back to where we sipped lattes on Cathedral Cove.
Anyhow, I mentioned the paddle out was a bit challenging and part of that was because the waves were quite big and the weather turned nasty almost as soon as we got out on the water. The other challenging aspect was the fact that I was put in the two-person kayak with a lady who wasn’t so good at steering or paddling, and bless her heart, she got incredibly seasick after about half an hour.
She ended up bailing on me mid-journey, substituting her 12-year-old daughter instead as she hopped in the other kayak with her hubby and headed for shore. The kid was a much more effective paddler than her seaweed-green Mum, so it was actually a good thing we switched because the seas got even choppier toward the top end of the nostril rock.
After at least a full hour of paddling, we headed for the beach for photo opps and coffee time. The freezing cold rain poured down on us but once I had a made-to-order latte to go with my thermal and rain jacket, I was quite content to enjoy the beach, watch for killer whales and think about Narnia.
Later that evening, we set up our tents in the drizzly cold rain which was not ideal, but that’s what you get when you sign up for camping. Around 11 p.m. we grabbed some shovels and made our way to pitch dark Hot Water Beach. You really can just dig a hot tub for yourself in the sand, but you can also burn all the skin off your feet if you’re not careful!