It was an experience of haves versus have-nots, sharing of finite resources and reliving childhoods when we all played in the sandbox with kids whose names we never bothered learning.
The local knowledge told us to arrive at the beach near low tide with shovels and some energy to dig. Once the right spot is located, start digging, they said.
Rather than searching for treasure, we were on a mission to build our own hot tub.
At Hot Sand Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula, there are two spots near the rock outcroppings where naturally heated water flows through the sand. Just dig down a few inches, and the hole will fill with hot water.
We got there on time but the place was already crawling with other hot tub enthusiasts. Those in the know were knee deep in a decent tub. Those with poor information were wearing confused looks as their holes filled with water, but it was cold.
We started digging with a couple on their honeymoon. Never got their names. A few cold holes abandoned, we moved over near to the group who seemed to have the location right. They were already lounging. A group of us started digging nearby and made progress until a big wave came in and took out our retaining wall. That happened three or four times before I was over it.
I’ve never been a huge fan of sand, but I’m a more-than-huge fan of hot tubs. I thought one affinity might supersede another aversion. Nope. Once covered in sand, sticky from the salt water and tired from digging, I was ready to leave behind the sociology experiment.
A few weeks later I learned from a local that the hot water beach used to be a quiet spot where a small group of diggers could have the whole place to themselves. Nevermore.