After the Pash ‘n Dash night (see the previous post), I was ready to sleep in late the next morning. We had not really had a good night of rest since our arrival. However, Joe and Kevin dragged me out of bed around six in the morning and forced me to go on a hike in the town of Piha. Piha is about a forty minute drive from Auckland but the surroundings are completely different. It is a coastal town hidden in mountains and rainforests.
Joe, Kevin, and I started out the morning by exploring the windy beach and climbing Lyon’s Rock, which was a tall rock that sprung out from no where in the middle of the beach. The massive waves were smashing into the rocks all along the coast. Apparently this area is a hotspot for surfing. The weather, which was rainy and cloudy, only added to the beauty of the scene painted before us. I could not help but be reminded of the Oregon coast a bit. Dad would have loved this view, I thought to myself as I breathlessly took it in. I looked away from the beach I noticed a layer of fog settling near the green mountain peaks. It was as though we were thrown into a scene from Lord of the Rings. I suddenly became frustrated with myself because I left Dad’s ashes back at Joe’s apartment on that day. I guess I will have to come back to this place before we go.
After climbing Lyon’s Rock, we decided to venture away from the beach and into the rainforest. We hiked along a crystal blue steam while a mountainous green backdrop surrounded us. First Lord of the Rings and now Avatar, this truly is a wonderous place. We only hiked for about thirty minutes before we came across a beautiful waterfall. The water poured from a source hidden at the top of a cliff, which was about 300 feet high. The cliff was cascaded so that there were multiple levels of aqua blue pools, each furiously pouring into the next. We stood speechless at the bottom, just watching the water explode into the last pool. This might be Heaven, I thought.
We crossed the stream and began to hike higher and higher. The trail was muddy and there were several moments when one of us almost slipped. We finally arrived to our final destination, which was the top of the massive waterfall. This was one of the most amazing views I had ever laid my eyes upon; a scene stolen from fairy tales and movies and plopped into real life. Kevin and I climbed to the very edge where we got to look down on to the first pool fed by the waterfall. There was a chain and a carribeaner attached to the rock which would allow people to repel down into the pool. God, I wish I had a harness and a rope right now. I grabbed the chain and leaned over the edge. Complete peace and serenity…no one around except Kevin and Joe. Our own private, blissful sanctuary…Heaven on earth.
On the way back down, we decided to stop at the bottom of the waterfall and swim in the pool. The temperature was beyond cold, but I could not pass up the opportunity. We stripped down and stepped in. I made it far enough in to have water level with my waste before the numbness of my legs told me to stop. I was freezing, but it was worth every second. We are going to go back to this waterfall when Blake gets into town and we are going to be better prepared to swim all the way underneath the falling water…I also will not forget my dad’s ashes next time.
After our hike in Piha, we met up with a few of Joe’s colleagues at a gym and played basketball. It was fun to experience an international style of basketball, although my left hand decided to forget how to dribble for the first several minutes. After basketball, we rushed back to Joe’s apartment, showered, and then walked to a pub for a Sunday session. At the pub we met with two of Joe’s colleagues, Victoria and Sia. Both women teach with Joe and are extremely genuine, not to mention quite attractive. The five of us shared an appetizer and a beer before Joe leaned over to me and said, “Apparently Victoria has a spa (hot tub)…how great would that be?”
“Sitting in a hot tub in the middle of New Zealand…that’d just be…the absolute best!” I said under my breath to him.
I looked over to Victoria and Sia who were in mid conversation and thought, Yep, we need to plant that spa idea in her mind. Being far more blunt than I had intended, I said something along the lines of, “Hey Victoria, I hear you have a spa at home…when are you going to invite us over?” American arrogance at its finest.
“Care for a spa, do ya?” she replied with a smile in her Kiwi accent. “Yeah, we can do that.”
We all finished the last of our beer and headed back over to Joe’s apartment to grab our togs (swim trunks). We made it to her house twenty minutes later, popped open a bottle, and jumped into the spa. It was drizzling slightly, which enabled a misty steam to rise from the hot tub. I zoned out for a few moments and surveyed my surroundings —
Kevin was across the spa from me in the middle of telling a long joke. The others stared at him attentively and laughed whenever he would pause. I looked to my left and briefly caught the electric blue that was Victoria’s eyes. A romantic shock rushed through my veins like I was struck with a defibrillator; I felt alive.
I looked up to the sky and saw the Southern Cross. The last time I had laid my eyes upon the Southern Cross, I was sitting in a pool with Isaac in the middle of Uganda. Back then, it was Father’s Day and I was sadly mourning my father’s death; on this night I thought about him and smiled, for I was making memories like he wanted me to do.
Kevin hit the punch line of his joke and the spa erupted with laughter, which brought my mind back to reality. I looked up at Joe who nodded at me with a smile. He knew what I was thinking. This day was one of the best of my life, and our trip in New Zealand was only just beginning.