Monday, January 9, 2012


On the way north we stopped in Maunganui, hoping to see the MV Rena on the Astrolabe Reef, but either it was too far or the weather was too cloudy and drizzly - probably both. However we did have to cross carefully to the beach as the esplanade was being used for a half-triathlon!

Once we got to the Coromandel Peninsula the roads through the forests were steep and very twisty.
Arriving in Tairua we discovered the reason for the long lines of traffic - there was a food and wine festival. Avoiding that, we stopped at the info centre to check our planned route, since two out of three of our maps said the road we wanted was unsealed. (Not to worry as it turned out, it had been sealed four or five years ago. What does that say about those other, only recently-obtained, maps!?)

Laetitia bought some hot chips to help against the chilly wet weather and we drove a short way further to Hot Water Beach where we ate our lunch in the car, watching the rain fall and the tourists on the sand and in the surf. Apparently you can take a shovel and dig yourself a hole in the sand, where you’ll find warm water from a natural spring. We were there at low tide, but the weather was far too unpleasant (wet, windy and cold) for us to try it ourselves - not that anyone else seemed at all deterred!

Then we drove on around the peninsula to Coromandel town. The last part of the drive includes a steep climb with many, many turns over a mountain pass and a scenic lookout at the top. Unfortunately we were in the clouds from about a third of the way up, so we didn’t bother stopping to look at the view.

We stayed two nights in a self-contained unit managed by Pottery Lane Cottages. Our unit was very spacious with a lounge and full kitchen and even a (free!) laundry! Unfortunately the bed sagged and in the end we found the couch in the lounge was at least as comfortable as trying to sleep with both of us in the bed.

We cooked dinner in our unit both nights.

The first morning we spent resting and doing some laundry (free!). We walked into town and found some delicious red lentil soup for lunch at Chai Tea at the bottom of the hill on the western end of the main street. Laetitia discovered quilt supplies at Stapleton’s at the other end of town (nice, friendly service - by a man!).

After lunch we went for a short drive. We had intended to go to Long Bay but that appeared to need access through private property so instead we went to Wyuna Bay. We also went for a walk along the Kauri Block track up to the Pa Lookout since it was a good day for a walk - overcast and cool but not raining. It was quite a steep climb and we were astounded when a group of cyclists passed us, carrying their mountain bikes up the stairs with them! The view from the top was fantastic.

Returning to town we spent a couple of hours catching up with email etc. before dinner.

The following morning we had to go to the Post Office. Laetitia posted the quilt material she had bought, back to herself in Australia, and I had to organise a pre-paid bag to send to the place we stayed in National Park because I had left my phone charger there. They will put it in my pre-paid bag and post it to me back in Australia. Sigh.

The cloud cover being lighter and higher than when we’d arrived, we decided to have another try at the scenic lookout on the hill on the way into town. So we drove up the steep switchbacks and were indeed rewarded with a beautiful view both ways (east and west) from the top. Well worth doing.

The drive south along the west coast of the Coromandel Peninsula was beautiful, winding along the coast. 
We stopped in Thames for lunch, which we ate under a large tree outside one of the two old churches there made from Kauri wood. That one was closed, but the other (St George’s Anglican) was open and so we had a look inside there after lunch.

Then it was west and then north heading to and through Auckland.

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