Sapphire Hot Water Springs, Katikati

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“Hi, my name is Judy”

It’s always great to meet fellow travellers and have a chat, but at this point I kind of could guess what was to follow …

“You have to forgive me, I’ve had a bit to drink tonight.”

“It’s my first night here, so I’m celebrating.”

“Did you know that I’ve never been to South Island New Zealand.”

… How did I know she would say these things? Does my genius extend to reading minds?

Sadly no. I knew this because Judy was like a DVD player stuck on skip, and every 2-3 minute her memory would reset and she’d start again. I think this was about the 6th or 7th playing and it was getting a little tiresome. Speaking of which …

“Hi, I’m Judy ….”

We thought we’d found a wonderful little campground just outside of Katikati (although it’s not to be confused with the ‘naturists’ camp which is also just outside of town) with its lovely shaded campsites by a hot water stream, and the big, albeit a bit run down, hot water spring swimming pools that we got to soak in all afternoon after a couple of days of riding.

But there were also lots of signs that this place may have been a bit dodgy as well … Why did the information centre not mention it until I pointed it out on the map, and then only reluctantly? Why was it cheaper than all the other campsites (camping is expensive in NZ … $40 a night for a piece of grass)? Why was it for sale? Why was it virtually empty when we arrived? Where was that loud music coming from? And probably the biggest give away … Why was this guy beside the sink both when we arrived and when we left …

Judy, if you want to know, had just arrived for the kiwi fruit packing season which would be starting in a couple of weeks. She had no car, thought $100 a week for a caravan was a bit expensive, and she was blotto.

She was there with her sister and her sisters son, and everything you wanted to know about her life was on full display from 8pm as she and her family had a full on screaming match which ranged from allegations of assault, screaming, swear words that would put me to shame, and the repeated phrase, “all I want is my lighter, my black lighter, give me my lighter”.

… I guess at least she had stopped saying “Hi, my name is Judy”


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