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Published: February 9th 2016
Wednesday January 6 - Today we said goodbye to Shona and the house and the late night chatting with someone other than ourselves, and started the drive to the Coromandel peninsula. It's a beautiful area to drive around, and that was our main goal, as we were running out of time for any real hiking. We stopped in a town called Thames to do some grocery shopping to stock up for the last leg of our journey, and it was quite busy there. Almost impossible to get out even. They seemed to be having some sort of festival and the traffic was horrendous, and the way we were situated made it very hard to get out again, but we finally made it. From there we drove to Coromandel Town and walked around a bit. Not too much to see there, but I did buy some smoked mussels, something they are famous for. They even let me try a few for free. Man, they were goood. I wish I had bought more, but I was really happy with the ones I did have. Next stop was Whitianga, and we stayed in a holiday park there. Our GPS malfunctioned on the way there
so that was less fun. We grew quite dependent on it. We liked this holiday park for the kitchen - empty, no fighting for cooking space - and the nice, clean bathrooms. We took a nice walk along the coast and saw a beautiful sunset, then cooked burgers and veggies that would get us through two nights.
Thursday January 7 - Today we were up at 7am, had breakfast and then emptied the grey water in the camper and filled up the water again. First stop on the list today was Cathedral Cove. A lot of people go here and the parking lot is very small, so there are signs the whole way saying that you should park further away in the extra lots and get a free shuttle to the small parking area. The shuttles didn't start until 10am, and it was only 9:30, so we took the risk and drove to the small lot. It was small, but we got the last spot! It was glorious! From there it was still a 25 minute walk or so to Cathedral Cove. It was cool and cloudy, not the best for pictures, but still quite nice. I walked around
and took a million pictures. I even found a bathroom that was up some stairs and had a window out to the beach from the throne! We walked back from there, already tired but happy, and gave our parking spot away to another lucky person. From there we drove to Hot Water Beach. When we got there we had some lunch - my smoked mussels! - and then walked to the beach. Hot water beach is just that - there is thermal water below the sand, and at low tide you can dig yourself a hole to make a small spa pool for yourself. We could have gotten a shovel like so many others, but we decided not to. It was fun just to watch everyone digging. Our last bit for the day was to drive through the Karangahake Gorge between Waihi and Paeroa. Quite beautiful, but the weather was not very cooperative or we may even have stopped for a walk. In Paeroa we camped for the last time, though this time it was in a parking lot in the town that allowed overnight camping but had a few places where you could plug in. We just had to
pay $5 at the nearby gas station. Quite a deal, considering we were used to paying at least $50 a night at the holiday parks. There was even a 24 hour clean bathroom next door. And we had cooked our dinner the night before, so we just had to use our microwave (for the first time) to reheat it. There was also a library within walking distance that provided free wifi, so even after hours we could sit outside and use the internet. Pretty amazing, considering how crappy and infrequent free wifi has been pretty much everywhere in the country. A pretty good evening overall.
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