The sun is shining, not a cloud in the bluest of skies on a perfect day in Wellington. Glancing from my flat to the water sparkling right next to it, I decide to go for a swim. After all, it’s my last Monday here.
“My body will just get used to the frigid waters and go numb after awhile, anyway,” I figured.
Always the wise one, I am. Right.
It took me a few minutes to drop off my belongings, slap on some sunscreen and bolt for the beautiful blue ocean (literally a 1-minute walk from my door) with my GoPro strapped on. The first and only time I tried “swimming” in cold New Zealand water was on my recent South Island trip (more details to come) in Lake Tekapo. That resulted in being able to get neck-deep for about one minute tops.
Since it was sunny out, the water felt so refreshing and cool against my feet when I dipped them in. The deeper out I walked, the more I could feel the cold licking my skin… but it honestly wasn’t bad at all. It was doable. And then I dunked my face underwater – probably only lasted for a split second before gasping for air. Yeah, it was cold. I heard a crackly noise from behind; my ears were either playing a trick on me or my hair was actually hardening because of the cold temperature.
But nah, all good, I kept on swimming. Not quite The Great Barrier Reef, but hey, it was water. I didn’t get the chance to swim at all on my recent “vacation,” so this is probably why I felt so compelled to jump right in while I still was living right next to water.
It actually felt normal after a few minutes of treading water, but I noticed that my whole body had goosebumps throughout the duration of swimming. Ha. California blood. No spectacular marine life or mammals were seen, but I did get to swim by a couple ducks and get up close to a Variable Oystercatcher (black with a bright, long orange beak… they make hilarious squeaking noises when threatened or trying to mate). A seagull almost dove into my head (what the hell, was it mistaking me for a whale), and a couple joggers/walkers stared at me as I swam farther out. “Stupid American,” they probably were thinking. One guy in my complex laughed, “You’re crazy to go swimming in this weather,” as I shivered and hobbled back to my flat once done.
The worst part was getting out of the water, because my body was used to being submerged in the cold. I could barely walk by the time I was on shore, violently shaking and wondering why I wasn’t handling it better. Even after a long, hot shower, I was still shaking and twitching with my palms still blue.
Damn, Wellington. Your water is pretty cold, after all. But eh, I survived. And for craving a swim in fresh ocean water, it was all worth it.