May 9th, 2016 - Monday
I woke up tired from the night before from all of the walking or perhaps all the Jack and Cokes? I saw that I had a missed call from my mother in the States and suddenly felt ill. I then got a text message from her stating that my cousin Lionel had passed away. I was not sure how to process this because he was so young. My cousin was retired from the Navy, just recently married, and settled in Florida. He was fit and in good shape so I was not sure how this could have happened. I called my mother to see what happened. She informed me that my cousin passed away in his sleep after lying down to take a nap before having company over for a party. I told my mother that it was strange. I explained I had missed her call because I was over seas in New Zealand. She asked what I was doing there. I told her I was on vacation. Why is that so weird for people especially my mother that people go out to see the world. That annoyed me and I did not have anything else to say. There has been so many years lost between us that only silence was on the phone now. So I told her happy early birthday and Mother's Day and I hung up with her. I went back to my hotel room and told my brother the news. I then called my Grandmother to get the scoop. She said that My aunt Lucy who is my cousin's mother was doing okay given the circumstance. That aunt Lucy had always been the strong one. This put my brother and I in a weird mood. We got ready and headed out to explore Piha Beach and Kite Kite Falls. It was our last day in New Zealand.
We headed out to Piha Beach which is one of New Zealand's black beaches. A natural black beach not because of a chemical spill. The beach was simply majestic. The black sand on the beach sparkled and the water was such a rich blue. Piha beach is famous for its landmark Lions Rock. Many people come here to surf as I saw on this particular day. I took off my shoes to stick my toes in the black sand. I mean how many times in your life can you say you have done that. The sand felt so good between my toes. I walked along the beach enjoying the views and soothing sounds of the waves crashing.
My brother and I climbed Lion's Rock. I climbed it barefoot which I would not recommend because ouch it hurts. The climb is very steep but there are some small spots along the way where you can stop for a moment before continuing the journey up. I spotted a guy Jacob who was at the very top of the rock but It looked like a death trap to me so I did not go that far up. Also there is no path to walk up that far. I am extremely out of shape according to how out of breath I was once I reached the top. I will say that views that you see this high up was totally worth it and hey I climbed a landmark. How many people can say that? It did not matter how out of breath I was at that point or the stress that was in my life for those striking views took all of that away in this moment. Not to mention what an accomplishment for myself in doing something I had never done on a first try. One the climb down Jacob said that he was working in New Zealand on a Visa. He mentioned that he just bought a cheap car and lived out of it while exploring all of New Zealand. I thought that was a pretty cool.
The next stop was Kite Kite Falls. According to the Kite Kite Falls sign it was a 20 minute walk. I guess that was for people who are in shape because it took us around 45 minutes to get to the falls. Again another eye opener that what I do in the gym is nothing compared to outdoor activity. The high elevation, the humidity, and it was starting to get somewhat hot made me thirsty. Then I remembered I did not pack any water. The only day thus far on this vacation I forget to put water in my bag. FML I was gonna die. I did have a dry fit shirt on which helped from being sweaty on the upper half but I was wearing pants on this journey which was not very smart. I will say that hiking up to the falls was not planned. I thought it was gonna be a piece of cake. The hike along the way to the falls we kept getting passed up by other people. It was great that it was very jungle like to give shade to the sun and keep the hike somewhat cool along the way. The water sounds were getting louder so we were fast approaching them. I finally saw the falls in sight and wow!!! We spotted a few others who were in the bay of water in swim suits. (Note to self bring a swim suit next time I go to a waterfall duh!) I did however place my hands in the water and how cool it felt after being overheated on the trek to falls.
We headed back to car as it was time to go. On the way back we got a bit turned around but ended up seeing a huge tree stump that was way taller than I was. (note: there is a water line to fill an empty bottle if you like.) On the way back we stopped to get snacks, drinks, and meat pies as you can imagine all of these were needed for all the climbing and hiking we did.