Sunday, May 22, 2016

We Visited Hahei - NZ – 18 and 19 Apr 2016

Mercury Bay Hahei

We left Auckland at 9.45 am and made our way to Hahei on the famous Coromandel Coast. We reached our destination at 1215 h – a drive of 175 Km. The drive is extremely captivating taking us through endless mountains and valleys. The surroundings keep you enthralled throughout. Most of the time is spent in photography and viewing. As one rounds ‘Firth of Thames’ the vegetation becomes even more dense and interesting. The drive is extremely lonely with very few cars on road ,no signs of any habitation outside of cities and villages, no human beings to be seen anywhere and definitely no animals.  

The driver should be very alert at all times. To break monotony it’s good to pull over and take a photo break – it helps.
The landscape
We checked into  "Hahei Holiday Resort". It is a very well appointed resort - extremely clean and comfortable. The facilities include a barbecue pit, free laundry, fully equipped kitchenette and a small restaurant. The cottage we stayed in was extremely well equipped – down to a can opener and corkscrew! It had wooden floors and a verandah to die for! The place is huge and accommodates camper vans and tents. One can walk across to Hahei beach behind the resort.
Naveen at the entrance to the resort
Jai absorbing Hahei

Hahei is derived from the Māori name for Mercury Bay, Te-Whanganui-A-Hei, or "The Great Bay of Hei". Its resident population is around 300 and it is home to the world famous ‘Cathedral Cove’ and a hot water beach. The village itself is very small with one all purpose store, a single petrol bunk, a few restaurants and resorts for tourists. Two of us wanted to stay a little longer in Hahei than planned while the other two wanted to come back and settle down for good. That was the impact of this cute little village.
The Gang
Starting with Hahei we took a special liking to Kiwi ice cream in a very big way. Their ice cream is quite rich and creamy. The helpings are awesome and the flavors are mind blowing.

Some Ice Cream Cone
The store keeper was very helpful and went out of her way to book us for a speed boat ride to visit the coves.
Getting ready for the ride
The Coxswain and the guide told us that Captain Cook landed on the beach that now takes his name in November 1769, to watch Mercury (hence the Bay’s name) cross the sun. After some astronomical calculations Cook worked out the latitude and longitude, putting New Zealand on a map.
A distant island
 We went on a speed boat ‘Hahei Explorer’ to watch the coves and the volcanic coastline. The one hour tour covers the entire coastline giving us an opportunity to take a close look at all the coves, enter some of them and watch the volcanic formations which dot the entire sea area. This unique combination of sea, sand, rocks and trees makes the coastline extremely attractive and romantic.

Fascinating Rock Formations

From inside the cove a novel experience

All dressed up
One of the coves leads into a fascinating cave- when you look up you can see a tiny bit of the sky surrounded by a magical circle of trees looking down on us. The coxswain of the boat told us that the Maoris used to come to this cove to find peace, quiet and calm.
A very unique cove

At the bottom of the cove

Entrance to deep cove

Imposing volcanic rocks as the lava flowed

Yet another deep and narrow cove

Mares Leg Cove,

Sea,Sky,Rock and Trees - simply fascinating

Finally the Cathedral Cove
No wonder people from all over the world come to Hahei to unwind and enjoy – it offers unlimited outdoor activities such as kayaking, scuba diving, surfing, trekking and living in the wild. We ended the day with a glass of chilled beer and a delectable lunch. 

Hahei resort observes ‘Quiet Time’ between 10.30 PM to 7.30 AM during which time there should be no noise and no music.

The next morning was spent lazing around the ’Hot Water Beach’. Some volcanoes develop huge underground reservoirs of super heated water. Over time, this water escapes to the surface — cooling on the way. There are two fissures at Hot Water Beach issuing water as hot as 64ºC (147ºF) at a rate as high as 15 liters/minute. This water contains large amounts of salt, calcium, magnesium, potassium, fluorine, bromine and silica. The hot spring starts one hour before the low tide and lasts one hour after the change. We reached the beach at 1000 h sharp as the low tide for the day was at 1100h.

A tiny bubble of hot water escaping from the sand
Jai with a shovel all set
The whole exercise was to dig a pool sufficiently large to accommodate the four of us to lie down in the sand where the hot water wells up. The hot water is to be found only at two spot on the beach. Everyone heads for it an hour before low tide. The hot water from the spring mixes with the tidal wave making it hot enough to lie down and laze. One can see the steam rising up from the sand where the water is really hot.   The atmosphere on the beach immediately transforms you into a child. Four of us went into a frenzy to dig a hole for ourselves to bathe in this unique volcanic hot water. The spring water by itself is extremely hot and unbearable to touch. One has to be careful to avoid getting the soles of the feet burnt. As the tide rises, the cold waves of the sea engulf the area so one can only sit for those two hours or so.
Naveen refused to leave the pool and continued to remain in the spa for two hours.

The Hot Water Beach scene

Jai, kats and Naveen enjoying the spa

Naveen refusing to get up

One last attempt
Totally pleased !!!!
It was indeed a novel experience.
Totally agree with the notice
Very reluctantly we departed from Hahei next morning, carrying with us loads of wonderful memories of this charming little seaside village.

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