When we planned our New Zealand trip we didn’t really plan anything. We booked plane tickets and the van and that was pretty much it besides a vague idea of what we wanted to do. This is pretty unlike me, I’m a big planner, and a big procrastinator, but once I sit down and start planning I get pretty into it (trip advisor is my bible). We wanted this particular trip to be spontaneous and just go where we wanted when we wanted. It all started great…
And then we realised we’d driven an hour in the wrong direction. Thats when Daniel started driving and I took charge of directions (men!).
We were off to Hamner Springs. On the way we read all about it and its natural hot springs, which came highly recommended in the
free pamphlets guide books. That’s when we got to thinking, did we really want to go to what sounded like a real touristy destination or would we rather continue a bit further to what looked like a smaller potentially more unique hot spring? We were umming and ahhing when we drove right past the turn off to Hamner Springs, it was a sign!! A sign that that was our first mistake.
Our second mistake was not turning around when we started to rethink our decision as we were driving along a dark winding road through the forest that we could barely see a couple feet in front of our car. Finally we reached Maruia Spring … and drove right past it. What looked like a small town on the map was in fact a one building resort. We should have just cut our losses and turned back for Hamner Springs at that point, but no! We were on the road there was no going backwards!
I’m going to blame it on our exhaustion from driving in the pitch black on seriously windy roads but for some reason we thought that the next ‘town’ on the map, Springs Junction, would be better. Nope, once again New Zealand had gotten the last laugh. Springs Junction is in fact, just a junction. Two roads meet, there is a little roadside shop and a petrol station. That is all. That bitch spontaneity failed us again. So we went back to the original plan and drove to Hamner Springs and it was the best decision we could have made. The drive back sucked and desperately trying to find somewhere to stay for the night was stressful. Luckily the family that owned the holiday park paused their game of twister to take pity on us and let us stay the night in the field with the goat.
Hamner Springs was worth it all. I can’t believe we almost missed it for the sake of spontaneity. It was beautiful and I swear if I suddenly woke up there I would think I was in North America. Our one bit of spontaneity did pay off though, we skipped the springs. They were touristy as we had thought, not the natural rock ones you imagine, they were just giant pools fed by the springs filled with kids (human soup, not appealing). Instead we climbed Conical Hill and had the best view out over the valley.
For the rest of the trip we didn’t give up on spontaneity all together but we did try to have a basic idea of where we were going to stay each night with at least one potential caravan holiday park there. We definitely learned our lesson about these supposed ‘towns’ on New Zealand maps.