So I hiked back to Hahei and then drove down the road to the Hot Water Beach. I found accommodation at Auntie Dawn's B&B which was as cute as its name and Dawn gave me a good price (partially, I think, because I caught her attempting to bathe her terrier, who had been rabbitting, and decided to try to hide behind me rather than have a bath). She was proud he protected her garden but wished he didn't get so filthy. There were patchwork curtains and bedding, chickens, cacti, spades for digging on the beach and an outdoor shower (as well as indoor) to deal with the sand. She introduced me to her other guests, a young American family, who promptly invited me to dinner and a trip to the hot spring fed beach at low tide. So, I went off to the campground (where there actually was wireless internet) to get news from home and a bottle of wine. Then along with the other guests at about 7 pm, we headed down to the beach.
You could see steam rising in places due to yet another volcano. You could feel the sudden heat as you walked along the beach. If you choose your spot right you can dig a big hole as a natural hot tub, with a nearby pool of cool ocean water to moderate the temperature. All this, under the brilliant Milky Way and southern sky. It was a lot of work, actually, to build the pool, but the heat was phenomenal. Soon the beach filled with other visitors making their own pools in the strange patterns, following the heat. People would exclaim in their natural accents and various tongues when they were shocked to find cool ocean water on one foot and too hot water on the other. Eventually the young son and father called it a night, but I stuck around chatting with the mother until the tide came in and washed away our pool. In the morning we got up in time for low tide and sampled the hot springs again.
Then, I checked out and headed for Auckland. I stopped briefly in Thames, despite the rain.