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Published: January 14th 2016
After three weeks of rest and relaxation in Auckland it was time to restart our adventures. We packed our things, cleaned the house, fed the cat one last time and set off for our next destination... The Coromandel Peninsula.
The Coromandel is a couple of hundred kilometres from Auckland and seems to be where a lot of Kiwis take their summer holidays. It is easy to understand why. The landscape is a pastoral idyl much like England's Lake District. Added to that is an endless series of beaches and a rugged, interesting coastline. We arrived right in the peak of the holiday season and found the area was busy and accommodation extremely expensive.
On our first night we camped at a campsite near Hot Water Beach. As it's name suggests, this beach is famous for being thermally active. The theory is that you take a spade down to the beach, dig a hole and watch it fill with hot water due to the high water table. For this to work you have to be in a particular spot two hours either side of low tide. What actually happens is that people flock down and gather in a large group.
Some will dig away but it doesn't seem to benefit them much because the cold waves crash in and wash away their hard work. As a result people develop all kinds of ingenious fortifications and earthworks to protect their pools. Generally it just seemed to be an exercise in futility. We went down at about 9.30pm as the sun was going down and joined the crowds. Instead of digging though I just dived straight in and started using my legs to clear the sand. It is a very strange sensation walking on boiling hot sand. I generally found I could sit for a few seconds in lovely warm water before the waves washed in and gave me a cold dousing. Every so often a huge wave would come in and even wash people back up the beach - their earthworks had no chance. We spent a good hour in alternate hot and cold water before it was fully dark and we decided to leave and get a hot shower. By this time it was almost completely dark and we struggled to find our things on the beach. The shower felt so good when we finally got there.
we moved on to Haihe Beach, a long stretch of sand further down the Coast. As it had dawned grey we went for a walk on the headland. The view from the headland across the green islands dotted in the deep blue bay was worth the effort of the climb. After a quick lunch and a visit to the local market we set off on our afternoon walk. This time we climbed the headland on the opposite end of the beach following a poorly signed footpath. We clambered up and then down into the next bay and found Stingray Bay, a semi-circular inlet almost completely covered in water with rough waves crashing in. We then climbed over the next headland and dropped down to our destination: Cathedral Cove.
Cathedral Cove is famous as the beach in the film 'Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian' where the ruined castle of Cair Paravel is. Here the children suddenly appear in a tropical paradise after being dragged from a London train station. The beach really is a paradise and is only accessible on foot or by boat. Cathedral Cove is actually split into two beaches by an immense natural arch. All around the
arch the water gleams a vibrant shade of aquamarine as it crashes in huge waves against the yellow sand. Surrounding the beach, the cliffs are covered in green trees hanging by the slimmest roots. Out of the ocean rises giant monolithic rocks which add drama to the magnificent scene.
By the time we arrived on the beach the sun was shining warmly. We couldn't just stand on the sand; we had to jump into the water and swim. The water was wonderfully cooling and we felt like it embraced us as we swam through it. We couldn't swim far before the waves came crashing over us... only a few metres out the waves were already above my head. There was a lot of fun to be had being thrown down the beach by the roaring waves but after being knocked off my feet a couple of times and almost losing my shorts in the process I had had enough. By now the thousands of other people on the beach were starting to get a bit annoying so we we set off for the walk back over the headland.
Sadly, that was all we had time to see on
the Coromandel Peninsula. We had to move on because more hot water and thermal activity were awaiting us further down the Coast in the Bay of Plenty.
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