Day 1: Hot Water Beach

By Mary Beth

It was time for another big holiday. Time was running out. The family was more than halfway through their time in New Zealand. They hadn’t ever properly visited the North Island. People on the South Island told the family that they would be wasting their time to go to the North Island, which had very little worth seeing. The family took the risk, and went anyway.

The first day was mainly spent in traveling. As they packed up to leave in the morning, Annie helpfully got into the car independently and buckled herself in all by herself. It was not until they reached the airport that her parents noted that she had forgotten to put on shoes. Their first stop on reaching Auckland was a store selling inexpensive children’s shoes.

Annie helpfully gave lots of instructions to Daddy as he drove from the Auckland airport to their first stop, two hours away, on the east coast. She liked to follow the advice of road signs, which everyone agreed was a good policy.

“Don’t fly away into the sky, Daddy!” she said.

“Good advice,” said Mommy.

“That sign was pointing down, so that means you can’t fly away into the sky,” said Annie, pointing to a sign with an arrow that was, indeed, pointing down towards the road.

This, however, got confusing when there was a sign that had a squiggly arrow pointing up towards the sky. “I think you are supposed to fly away into the sky now,” said Annie, sounding a bit less confident this time. Daddy was unclear on how he was going to manage this. After some discussion they decided to ignore that particular sign.

“Now turn that way!” Annie commanded urgently, pointing to a sign pointing to the left. “You have to turn that way!”

“Oh!” said her daddy, driving straight past the sign.

“Oh, shoot, he missed it!” said Mommy.

“You have to turn or we will get lost!” Annie wailed. “Now we will be lost forever!”

“Oh… well… maybe he can turn at the next road,” Mommy suggested, looking from her phone to the road. “Turn… here!” she said, and this time Daddy listened. Annie felt satisfied, but only until they reached the next arrow, which was clearly telling them to turn.

“Turn, Daddy!” Annie commanded.

Yet again, Daddy failed to turn.

Mommy tried to change the subject.

Annie was certain they were lost.

Naturally therefore it was a big relief and a surprise when they arrived at their new house, and the girls happily devoured a large amount of fruit which had been left out for them by their hosts.

That evening, they drove to the famous Hot Water Beach, which was only a few minutes away from their new house.

“Wawa!” Cora cried, as they walked down a long dirt path from the parking lot to the beach. There were trees along one side and a stream on the other side. She was pointing to the stream. Cora has become especially good at spotting water and identifying it to people around her. She is an expert – so good that she can sometimes spot water when no one else can see it. Sometimes even after she points it out, no one can see it. She knows, however, that it is crucial to pass this information on. 

“Yes,” agreed her mommy. “That’s wawa. That’s water.”

Cora paused, and then felt some concern that her mommy might forget about the water.

“Wawa! Wawa!” she stated, pointing again as she toddled down the path.

Her mommy agreed it was so. Then she picked Cora up since Daddy and Annie were getting ahead. Cora had a better vantage of the water from up here, and she felt the need to let her mommy know that it was still there. “Wawa!” she cried.

“Yes, it is water,” her mommy agreed.

“Wawa! Wawa!” Cora continued. When there was an important message to be communicated, Cora would stop at nothing to communicate it.

Finally they reached the beach. Daddy carried two small shovels. All over the beach, there were people with shovels, digging, and people lounging in large holes they had dug in the sand.

“Wawa!” Cora cried, pointing to the sea, to the waves crashing on the beach. Both girls started running over the sand towards the people in the holes. Mommy and Daddy ran after them.

When they got close to the ocean, they looked around and saw people digging and people lounging, and so Mommy picked a spot at random and said, “Let’s dig here!”

They dug a hole in the soft wet sand. Water pooled up from underneath, filling it. Annie got very excited and would have jumped in if her mommy hadn’t stopped her, dragging her out of range of the shovel. She waited impatiently and then jumped in. The water was about six inches deep. Cora jumped in afterwards. They splashed around, very happy. Their own little pool! On the beach!

Daddy put his foot into the water. “It’s cold,” he said.

“Really? It’s supposed to be hot,” Mommy said. She put a foot in and frowned. The girls continued to run around, laughing. There was sand under their feet! And water around their ankles! What could be better? They did not notice that the water was cold. Cora fell down and got soaking wet.

But the parents were dissatisfied. They insisted the girls move on to a different part of the beach. The family walked around, looking at people lounging in pools; the girls tried to jump into other people’s pools but were not permitted to do this. They jumped in some abandoned pools instead.

The parents dipped toes in the abandoned pools.


“This one is cold too.”

But then – “This one is warm!” Daddy said triumphantly. Annie raced over and jumped into the pool, which was about a foot deep. Cora toddled over and fell into the pool. The parents climbed in and sat in the warmest place, where the sand was so hot it was almost painful to touch, presumably just above the underground hot springs that bubbled just under the surface of the beach. Annie lay down in the pool, so she was covered from head to toe in fine wet sand. Cora made sure to get covered in sand too, outside her clothes, inside her clothes, down her diaper – every surface and crevice of her body was covered in it.

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