The local Kaikohe library led me to some fantastic hot springs.
I had gone there originally to charge my phone, as well as catch up with some people back home. Many of the people I ended up catching up with, however, were the locals.
Libraries around the world are always a sure place to find a collection of interesting people, and Kaikohe was no exception. There was the 22 year old Maori guy with his hand bandaged up from a fight, intent on bringing up topics just on the edge of propriety. There was the 70 year old woman who avoided technology and lived a simple life out in the countryside. The older Maori guy who traveled the world in his younger days, intent on discussing politics. The middle-aged business woman, keen on doing her financials but constantly distracted by the rest of us.
The older gentleman asked if I knew much about the history of New Zealand, and I admitted my ignorance. I asked if he would give me an overview, and his only response was, “Do you have three days?”
The group worked well together, listing off names of places I should visit as though they were stock brokers two minutes before the markets close.
The one I did remember was a place just a few kilometers east of Kaikohe called Ngawha Springs.
The springs were a bargain at $4NZ for a day pass. There were about eighteen different pools, with tempertures ranging from 20 degrees Celsius up to 45 degrees.
The color of the pools were a monochromatic scale.
The woman working at the springs and I got to talking about tourism. She said when she was young, the patrons were 100% local, and now the split with tourists is 50/50. She said originally she disliked the tourists, but has changed her mind after many pleasant conversations.
The ethics of tourism are difficult. At what point do tourists become a burden on the local population rather than a curiousity? What will happen to these local communities as more tourists begin to go there? How many is too many? I felt a bit guilty. She asked my thoughts on the matter. I said, “I guess it depends on the tourists,” unable to come up with a concrete answer.
I alternated pools, unable to get the thought out of my mind.
Also, I smell like eggs.