Exploring the rest of the Coromanel…..
Soon after we left Jakki and Colin’s house, the rain started again. Thankfully it didn’t last long, so by the time we reached our first sightseeing spot for the day, it had stopped.
Hot Water Beach…..
Given we hadn’t been in a hurry to leave in the morning, we hadn’t expected to get there, but we realised that we could make it to this popular tourist site at just the right time. Each day, the window to visit Hot Water Beach is small and related to tides – and we’d checked tide times the day before.
Popular for a patch of thermal water bubbling just beneath the surface of the sand at low tide, Hot Water Beach has achieved cult-like status as a worldwide wonder. Visitors flock to the usually deserted stretch of sand two hours either side of low tide. We were astounded to find a community of people gathered within a 20-metre radius, industriously digging a small pool or soaking in the rewarding results of their earlier efforts. As spades were available to rent at a hefty $10 each and digging was hard work, no one dared borrow a spade or someone else’s hole. Apparently, the water is hot – up to 64 degrees Celsius – something we can’t confirm as we just stood by and watched!
Next stop Cathedral Cove…..
Known for having featured in the Chronicles of Narnia, Cathedral Cove contains a gigantic arched cavern passing through a white rock headland to join two secluded coves. The cathedral-like arch gives the whole area an air of grandeur. The beach is sandy with shady pohutukawa trees along the foreshore – a perfect place for a picnic and a swim.
We parked the car at nearby Hahei where we bought a bottle of iced water before embarking on our walk. We also treated ourselves to Cookie Time cookie to eat along the way – Glenda used to buy some of these delectable indulgences every time she went to NZ for work and we fell in love with them then. From Hahei to the parking area the track was relatively quiet and required a little scrambling. From the carpark to the cove, the bitumen path was like a highway, full of lots of people puffing up and down the steep inclines. On the return trip, we took a short diversion to Stingray Beach, a secluded spot away from the crowds, to munch on our cookies.
Settling in for a couple of nights…..
By the time we reached Whitianga just before 2pm, we were ready to put down roots. Whilst sitting in a café on the main street, sipping on a coffee, we searched Airbnb for accommodation for a couple of nights. We snapped up an amazing deal on an apartment right on the marina, so lived with the view of yachts and seagulls for the rest of the weekend.
Sadly, Sunday morning was wet, so our planned run was a little less enjoyable than it may have been, but it was nice to follow the path alongside Mercury Bay. Fortunately, by the time we’d had breakfast, the rain had cleared so we could walk to the nearby C3 Church we’d found. We had a fabulous service and the rain held off long enough for us to the supermarket to buy some goodies for lunch and dinner before heading home.
Crossing the Coromandel …..
Monday morning brought with it heavy rain and mist, making the drive from east to west coast a bit treacherous at times, especially when we found ourselves behind a very wide vehicle that took up both lanes of the windy road. The rugged coastline on the western side of the peninsula would’ve been spectacular on a clear day, with the road following the coast closely. With the bad weather, we had no stops along the way so reached Thames by lunchtime. This gave us time to have some lunch, search for accommodation, stock up on food and get settled by mid-afternoon. We had no desire to venture out for dinner as the rain didn’t let up until the early hours of the following morning.
Heading back to Auckland under beautiful blue skies…..
We enjoyed a slow, relaxing drive back to Auckland the following day, hugging the coastline most of the way. There had been a large landslide at one point along the way, so we had to navigate trucks, stop signs and thick mud to get through. Other than that, it was fairly uneventful drive and we made it back to Glenda’s cousin’s house before lunch and prior to her heading out to her afternoon lecture.
The rest of our time in New Zealand was spent having dinner with Walter’s cousin and her family, catching up very briefly with a good friend and relaxing and enjoying the company of the people we were staying with. Thanks Bob & Dale for your hospitality!!