I almost died on my second day in New Zealand. My cousin and I had hired a car and driven to the Coromandal region of the North Island… famous for its Hot Water Beach. We arrived two hours before low tide, so that the celebrated area was exposed, and dug a sizeable hole in the ground to reveal scolding hot water. We barricaded the hot water with carefully engineered walls of sand as we reminisced to our forgotten childhood and blissful memories past. We shared a moment.

The water temperature climbed. Heated by the volcanic activity directly below, it’s said the water reaches a temperature of 60-65 degrees. And although it’s bubbling, it’s contended the bubbling is due to the release of carbon dioxide into it from the thermal activity below. Nonetheless, after lying in a pool of bubbling volcanic water MY geothermal region was beginning to seethe with pain. I needed to cool down.

Fortunately, the hot water beach also happened to be an amazing surf beach. One to two meter waves were constantly crashing down not 30 meters offshore. They were calling my name. I couldn’t find the two safety flags to swim between, so I swam between two huge rocks instead. The water was incredible. It was the perfect temperature: warm enough to prevent a crisp chill, and cool enough to soothe my geothermal region. Besides that, the waves were marvelous. It was like having a play fight between two tiger cubs. Up and down, pushing me in, and teasing me to go deeper and deeper. I hate being teased. I went deeper.

By this stage it was getting dark. My cousin had left the beach and the low tide was becoming a waning memory. There was no one on the beach.

After wrestling with the waves for a few more minutes I reluctantly decided to retire. Ouch… I stood on a rock. Oops… another rock. Fuck… that’s a rock too! Where’s the bloody sand? I managed to poke my head out of the water long enough to see that the pouncing waves had pushed me so far along the beach that I was now swimming over the rocks. The slippery surface of the rocks prevented me from standing on them, so I tried to swim back to safety. Nope, this cub had grown into a tiger. He’d lured me into his lair and now he was about to fuck me… or eat me, whatever it is tigers do to their prey.

The waves were either getting stronger or I was getting weaker with panic. Either way, I was getting pushed further into the tiger’s lair. As the waves came crashing down hard on my head, they caused a strong under-current and pulled me into a rip. It wasn’t looking good. I searched the beach for help, but found no signs of life. There would be no signs of life out here either if I didn’t think quickly.

I calmed myself down, found my head (albeit under the water) and devised a cunning plan to escape this den of masochistic pleasure. I painfully wedged my right foot between two rocks and locked it in with a twist. The waves continued to crash on my head, but at least I had stopped moving in the wrong direction. Moving forward would only afford me more rocks. So facing the beach, I moved to the right. I wedged my left foot between two rocks and locked it in with a twist. After a few more waves tried to swallow me under, I advanced a little further to the right, wedged my right foot between two rocks and locked it in with a twist. Slowly, slowly I made my way out of the rocky lair and onto a sandy ocean bed.

As I staggered onshore I was relieved of my near escape yet saddened that this incident was to be my final memory of this beach. So I excitedly ran back out to catch a few more waves. I made my peace with the beach, and left with a smile on my face. We acquired a mutual respect for one another. The beach respected that I was not easy prey, and I respected the beach for swallowing. We shared a moment.

I had a taste of death, and judging by my nipples it seemed I was a little aroused by it… either that or the water was colder than I thought. I later found out that swimming on that beach is prohibited due to the number of deaths that occur there every year.