Hot water beach was our next destination up the coast a little way and yes it does literally have hot water springs on the beach that are uncovered 2 hours either side of low tide. We arrived that evening when the water was too high to get in the pools, but we stopped for a cuppa whilst watching a pod of dolphins swim by and took a walk down the beach before heading to a campsite for the night. To catch the tide we were back at 8am the next day with plastic bowls from the van to dig pools in the sand, which then fill with hot water. There was more of an art to this than we had first thought as the hottest part of the spring is about 64degC and needs to be carefully mixed with cold sea water to be a bearable temperature. I thought it was a blissful way to start the morning lying back in a warm pool of water with the sound of the waves and the sun coming up. Geoff didn’t find it quite so relaxing and remembers complaining that his feet were being scalded, his back was freezing cold and the coarse
sand was grating away his skin! Anyway after an hour or so the need for breakfast and the incoming tide forced us back to the campsite for a shower and toast.
We drove through the Cathedral Cove area and then onto the Coromandel peninsular, an area hit by a cyclone in the last couple of weeks causing a lot of damage, flooding and making parts of it inaccessible, so we were not sure what to expect. It turned out to be another one of those disastrous searches for a free campsite, with numerous ‘No Camping’ signs everywhere. After driving up towards the north of the peninsular and then back down some of the west coast we eventually went inland and parked up a mountain road by the ‘Square Kauri’. Although this is a beautiful bit of the country and quite a tourist destination, we just wanted to leave and it didn’t seem that welcoming to us travellers. As we left the Coromandel the next morning we reflected on the fact that we had seen very little evidence of the devastation we had heard about on the radio and either their clear up operation was very good or the radio
had hyped it into something a lot bigger than it was.
The Shore Bird Coast and visitors centre was around a couple of hours drive from our overnight spot and after reading the leaflets about it I wanted to go and check it out this excellent habitat for wading birds. After looking at the displays in the information centre we were ready for the real thing and to follow the walk along the beach to see the abundance of birds. Geoff was having a ‘low sugar day’ so the fact that the tide was out, it was a grey day threatening rain and we couldn’t see many birds didn’t help me get him enthused about wading birds..... if only we had some binoculars. After the disappointing walk we drove a little further along the coast to find some other bus/caravans parked next to the water so rather than struggle on anywhere else we stopped for a spot of lunch... before we knew it was dinner and so we stayed the night. It seemed the perfect free spot to camp until at 11pm a local drove all the way along the road honking his horn, apparently a national past-time and
with the thought that we might get moved on we had a very restless night.
Next day we wearily drove onto Auckland, unfortunately the last drive we did in DAR354.... Yep.. we’re now seriously at risk of being blacklisted by rental companies worldwide as we managed to write-off another campervan... Geoff still reckons that the kangaroo was entirely to blame for the last prang, well this time it really wasn’t our fault, as a lady doctor crashed into the back of us at some speed as we entered the city. The traffic had been getting worse as we got closer to Auckland and the driving not getting any better, Kiwi’s really don’t understand the concept of ‘Keep your distance’. Shortly after Geoff had again stressed about how close the lady was behind us (probably using a less than polite phrase), we had to stop quickly along with about 3 other cars in front of us as someone was turning right. She didn’t stop, wrote off her car and our trusty camper van lost its spare tyre that flew off, the exhaust pipe was wrapped around the rear wheel and the fuel tank was pushed up along with the floor.
In hindsight it could have been a lot worse if the fuel tank had split, especially as our petrol stove and the gas canister were both at the back of the van as well.
So, she was very upset, Geoff was very angry, but trying not to tell her what he thought and the insurance people and police couldn’t believe anyone would have the number plate ‘O2BGOD’. Back at Ezy rentals we were given a new camper after filling out all the insurance forms and paying the excess of $1500 upfront (about £700) that we are pleased to say 2 months later we received back. We then struggled to move all our stuff to the new van with painful necks and backs after they got a crow bar to open the back door of the van. Next stop was the doctors to check us out and Geoff had muscle damage to his shoulders and back and was given muscle relaxant pills, I had tissue damage to my back and neck so was given a neck brace. Not the most comfortable thing to go shopping in but it did help. Our last stop of that rather too eventful day was
a campsite in Auckland, not what we had planned as we were supposed to be heading north to stay at a WWOOFing place, but what we both needed - some R & R, a hot shower and to be out of the mad Auckland traffic for a while.
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