This is the official blog of my Study Abroad Trip to Australia and New Zealand. I'll be leaving December 26th and returning home February 2nd.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Day 29: The Black Sand Beaches

Last day in Auckland for the group! We were fortunate enough to rent another "deluxe" manual transmission van with an older gentleman driver who had a tough time finding his bearings as we drove out to the world-famous Piha Beach, home of the stunning black volcanic sand. Our first stop was a state park welcome center, which the name escapes me, but the view from the back steps I'll never forget. Take a look:

 I feel like I am making all my readers roll their eyes simultaneously by saying I found another new favorite place to spend the night day in. At the same time it is probably the most dangerous beach I have ever been to. According to statistics and locals, they have had an average from 80 to 120 deaths from drowning from the past 10 years. And yet there were still surfers everywhere trudging away Baywatch style into the waves. I skipped out on swimming today needless to say. Regardless, it was probably the most beautiful beach I have ever seen in my entire life.

The sand was so interesting. It is a mixture of volcanic rock fragments and normal sand. When mixed with the ocean water, it creates a gorgeous dark, almost black wave cresting towards the shore. The sand actually has chemical properties that allow it to be magnetized. Take that Panama City Beach sand.

At least my feet don't stand out much against the sand.
If you can manage to ignore the two white boats down on the bottom screen that doctors call my feet, you'll see the rock formation known as Lion Rock, named because it bears likeness to a male lion laying down when seen from the side I'm standing on, and a female lion from the opposing side. I don't know they can differentiate the two. That's what Wikipedia is for I guess. We were actually fortunate enough, or crazy enough, to climb up it. Barefooted I might add. It was tough but the view and pictures from the top was definitely worth the sweat and sore feet.

After a couple of hours on the beach, it was time to grab some lunch and head home. We stopped at the local cafe across the street, had some great food, and piled in the van and rode back to Auckland. I took a quick shower, packed up, and waited for my ride in anticipation because our much needed free time was about to begin. Meghan's family friend who lives in Omaha Beach right outside of Auckland, was gracious enough to pick us up and let us stay at his family beach house for the night and the following day before we fly out to Queenstown. I can't wait. Thanks for reading! War Eagle!

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