Today was a hot summers sweat-rolling-down-your-back kinda day. I forgot to put sunscreen on my feet and they now have a fabulous sandal pattern, in a soft shade of crab shell. (I know, who gets burnt feet?) ‘Twas totally worth it though. Saw strawberries as big as apples at Santa Monica farmers market, saw the skaters, freaks, destitute, tourists, show offs, and everything else in between along the Venice Beach Boardwalk, Muscle Beach and Skate Park. They still have a freak show at Venice Beach, and the bearded lady stands out the front to entice you in to see the two headed pig, sword swallowers and more! We kept walking. And walking and walking, I think we walked about 15kms today! We dipped our toes in the cool soothing waves, along with thousands of other beach goers on this Labour Day long weekend. There was a ride in a beautiful old Merry-Go-Round (cos you’re never too old for them), up in the Ferris Wheel for a slightly sweaty palmed nervous ride, then saw Santa Monica Pier glowing in the late afternoon sun. It was the sweetest end to a hot summers day by the beach.
On a balmy summers Saturday night we walked along Santa Monica Pier and watched the sun set over the beach. It felt surreal and dreamlike, partly from the jet lag and partly because we were no longer talking about when we would walk along Santa Monica Pier, we were actually doing it… what a buzz! Buba Gump Shrimps, churros, fairy floss, fortune tellers, fisherman, singers, dancers, swimmers, and some dude with two massive snakes around his neck, all attracting their own crowds… all the while, the happy and sometimes freaked out screams from the thrill seekers on the rides at Pacific Park, filled the air. A pretty cool end to my second Saturday night this week!
The coromandel is beautiful. From jade green to deep sapphire blue, the waters in the bays are exquisite and the beaches divine. But there’s a special beach. It’s steaming hot. A couple of hours either side of low tide, the hot water that sits just under the surface of the sand, is accessible. You hire a shovel like we did, or use your hands, arms or thongs (as some did) and dig yourself a nice big comfy hole. Long enough to get horizontal in, with a nice built up edge for a pillow. It’s your own fresh hot water spa. Thanks to the geothermal activity in the area, the waters are laden with lots of extra minerals allowing Mother Nature to do her thing. The healing thing. Laying in a steaming hot pool of water, looking out onto the cold water beach, listening to the waves tumble into shore is quite a surreal experience. We did it at the morning low tide, quite civilised at 10am ish. And we did it next low tide, with the other diehards at 10pm ish. Imagine taking a hot sandy bath in the dark, lit only by the stars and the odd flashlight from fellow diggers, all the while the sound of waves and a cool breeze is upon you. It was a little bit magic really. It was also one of the most beautiful experiences of our NZ roadtrip. Peaceful gentle natural healing. Healing just doesn’t get any better than that. No wonder Lonely Planet reckon it’s one of the worlds top 10 beaches. It’s certainly won its way into my heart.
Passing through Waihi we stumbled into a big Hot Rod Show. I think every Hot Rod in New Zealand was there, it was huge! The main street was closed off, the sky was blue, it was hot like summer, there were hot rods everywhere all gleaming, polished and shiny, some dudes standing next to ‘rods with their chest puffed out all proud, local market stalls and shops, little kids all excited on school excursions, bands playing Elvis and Rockabilly music, ladies dressed in their finest full skirts covered in polka dots, sausage sizzles wafting thru the air, the joint was jumping! Waihi was bursting at the seam with happy activity.
No I didn’t jump on a plane and fly to California! This sunset photo was taken out of the car window from the side of the road in Napier. Yep, Napier. There’s a street lined with these iconic tropical palm trees, and we just happened to be on it when the sky turned on this vibrant sunset beauty. There’s another main beachside road that’s lined with really big old established Norfolk pine trees too, it’s stunning. And there’s the roaring beach, with huge waves that smash into the little black pebbles that line the very steep shores. We stayed a couple of km’s from the beach and could still hear the waves crashing into shore during the quiet wee hours of the night. All that in a town that’s full of beautiful classic Art Deco architecture too. Oh and the freshest yummiest fish & chips. Not to mention a yarn mill. A very cool stop on the NZ roadtrip.
Art Deco architecture, or Art Deco anything really, is quite beautiful. Classic lines and shapes that bring to mind an iconic era in history. You can be lucky to spot a nice building or two, or even three, around towns and cities in general, but here in Napier you are spoilt. There’s a couple of strips around town where every second building takes you back in time. There’s a few that are sadly a bit mismatched with modern awnings and shop signs reminding you that it’s 2014. But some are pure old school from front door to pressed metal awning ceilings. And they are just beautiful! What a delightful treat it is to wander the pretty streets of Napier. Jolly good show old chap!