We had high hopes when we reached the Eastern Coast of the North Island – an area referred to as “The Bay of Plenty.” The beaches and hot springs were supposed to be amazing, with crystal clear waters, beautiful parks. It sounded like a regular Shangri-la. Similarly, the description of the Tauranga holiday park we pulled into for the evening sounded amazing. According to the guidebook, it had thermal pools and an ocean view.
The left out the part about how it was more like a long-term live-in trailer park, rather than a holiday park. The “cottages” were actually occupied by long-term residents who had decorated their “front yards” with tires, discarded furniture and rusty chains. The “relaxing natural thermal pools” was a luke warm swimming pool (child’s size), with peeling paint. The kitchen was a little hodge podge, with mismatched tables of varying heights, a sketchy 1970s refrigerator, and a collection of about 50 mugs from various places in the world.
We had been looking forward to a nice holiday park all day, and were pretty let down when we rolled into town. But, we made the most of it, cooked ourselves up another gourmet dinner of New Zealand mussels, popped open a bottle of NZ red, and watched the sunset from our concrete ‘dock’ that faced the highway. It couldn’t have been all that bad if we had a view like this, especially with all the wine we drank out of those purple plastic cups.
Another early morning of scrambling and rushing to meet a boat. Our sole purpose for visiting this area in particular, was to swim with the dolphins. I’ll spare the drawn out details. The gist of of the story is that we may be lucky when it comes to weather, but we really suck when it comes to seeing wildlife. Even though dolphins are notorious in this area (something about the waters that they really love), we spent all day searching and didn’t see a single dolphin.
It was a day of pros and cons, because the silver lining to this story was that we (unexpectedly) saw a humpback whale (dolphins are extremely common to find where we were and whales are extremely rare). And that was pretty crazy and amazing.
Oddly enough, two of my favorite photos from the entire trip came from this somewhat “disappointing” day – the first one and the last of this set. Maybe it was because I recognized in them what Sly and I do best – enjoying time spent together regardless of the situation.