A weekly ode to the joys of moaning about your holiday, by Tim Roxborogh.
You know the water is cold if you've sweated seven litres (give or take), it's 28 degrees in the shade of a giant fern, near on 100 per cent humidity, you've hiked uphill for 90 minutes and your first toe in the water sends an icy, numbing shock through your entire body.
There's a small elephant in the room when it comes to our collective, Kiwi conversations about swimming in our rivers. It's great, vital even, that we are finally talking about how pollution has made too many of this country's most picturesque waterways unswimmable.
100% Pure New Zealand needs to walk the talk and more has to be done to clean up our rivers and lakes.
That elephant though. As I say, it's just a wee creature and not one that should distract from the main message of reforestation, better farming practices and improved processing of sewage. However, let's not beat around the (native) bush: fresh New Zealand water is freezing.
I'll admit it, I'm pathetic when it comes to water temperature, no doubt a symptom of spending seven childhood years in tropical Malaysia where the concept of "getting in" to water simply doesn't exist. Whether swimming pool or sea, the water there is always just right and it took me years to successfully psych myself up for swimming during the Kiwi summer.
"You wouldn't want it any warmer," lies the average New Zealander after every hot summer's day swim in water that, yes indeed, would be far more fun if it was a handful of degrees warmer. At least North Island seawater in Godzone is almost tolerable with each post-Christmas kilo I add to my waistline. River water though?
Most Kiwi rivers apparently average between 12-18 degrees in summer and in the case of the truly stunning (and still pristine) Wairere Falls near Matamata, it certainly felt at the lower end of that spectrum.
At 153m tall, the North Island's highest falls are well worth your perspiration. I really can't exaggerate how beautiful this three-hour return walk is. Lush rainforest, moss-covered boulders, rock pools and a surreal experience at the top where it's somehow flat and the cool, clear waters are calm before tumbling below. As for those views over the Waikato plains, they're incredible.
There's only one thing: that water temperature! We were so hot we tried to swim and plenty of others were, though tragically it seems my internal Malaysian thermometer is still very much intact.
The last time I stayed in a backpackers dorm room
Queenstown, June 2007. I was 25 and reaching the upper limit of being able to tolerate dorm rooms in backpackers. And then one night I reached it and vowed "never again!" I was travelling solo on a South Island road trip and found myself in a dorm room with 11 English kids on their gap year. They seemed about 18 or 19 and they were having — rightfully so — the time of their lives.
Knackered after a day of marching around the countryside, my normal ability to socialise with people I'd just met had deserted me. There are few more lonely experiences than being tired and the wrong age group in a dorm that's morphed into a pre-loading venue for people who already know each other. I tried making conversation but I sensed I was not at my minimum level of hoot-ness (as in, "what a hoot!") to garner much interest from the Brits.
So I went to bed. At some point they headed off to the bars and then at some point from about 2am onwards, they started filtering back into the room. I lay awake, pretending to sleep as I listened to their riotous yarns about who'd pashed who on the dance floor. I was 25 but I may as well have been 85. And funnily enough, that was a key turning point in me becoming more than just an occasional travel writer. If I was never going to stay in a dorm room ever again, I'd need to find ways to afford rooms to myself.
Tim Roxborogh hosts Newstalk ZB's The Two, Coast Soul on iHeartRadio and writes the RoxboroghReport.com.