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Published: March 18th 2009
After finally kitting out the van to our own taste (with extra cushions for that homely touch), we head north of Rotorua and stay at a place next to the river called "Friendly Waiteti Family Trout Stream Holiday Park" which I admit sounds a bit like NZ's answer to Butlins (on a much smaller scale of course) but it was great - firstly, only 1 family as such who had a year old child which they whisked away to the other side of the park - excellent; and only about 3 other couples and that was it! Place was lovely and quiet. We picked a choice spot away from everyone else and right next to the river and just had the ducks and doves (there was a dovecote adjoining the owners house) for company. We went for a walk down stream and admired all the houses backing on to the river - some having little boat houses and came out to the lake where fly fisherman were trying their luck with the trout in the river. The owner of the park had some kayaks and rowing boats so we decided to take out the rowing boat - far more civilised and
relaxing. Paul had first go whilst I felt like I should be wearing a long dress with parasol and Paul in red and white striped blazer with white trousers! It was very relaxing - except for the odd low hanging branch which we had to maneouvre round or duck. I had a go at rowing too and thought of Toad from Wind in the Willows - messing about on the river. The morinng of our departure, a fellow camper came over and asked if we wanted a trout. He'd been out in the morning and caught 6 so was giving some of them away! So we managed somehow, to put this freshly caught trout in our little fridge.
After a couple of nights there, we packed up and headed north towards the Coromandel Peninsula. We stopped at a few places along the way - notably, Cambridge which isn't anything like Cambridge in England. It appears to be the centre of race country, surrounded by large studs and fields with horses. Even on the pavement in the town centre, there are marble pictures of local legends in the racing world, and a statue of a mare and foal outside the
River joining Lake Rotorua
What a fantastic photo, you're thinking - and you're right! I took that, I did - on a rowing boat of all places! Brilliant!
town hall. It was a quaint little place which consisted of a roundabout and five shop-lined roads coming off it. We had a short wander around before resuming our journey. After leaving Cambridge, we left the hilly countryside and were driving across a huge plain, towards a far-distant mountain range where, by the end of the night, we were parked up at the foot of it, in open countryside.
The next day, we continued north towards Thames, which is at the base of the Coromandel Peninsula. It reminded me a bit of Blackpool! There seemed to be one long street, parallel to the coast which seemed to be quite well geared towards tourists. It wasn't tacky though and there were some nice old buildings from the Gold Rush days of the mid 1800's. They themselves were pretty American looking - just needed a sign over them saying "Saloon Bar" with those swing doors and you'd think you were in the Wild West. From leaving Thames, we drove up along the Pacific Coast highway which is the most twisty turny road we'd been on so far ("You twist and turn like a twisty-turny thing" Blackadder anyone?) and started off with
Draggin boat out of the river.
rocky bays with the odd sandy beach thrown in, which then proceeded into huge hills and valleys.
Before arriving in the town of Coromandel, we turned off someway before to go and visit some water gardens. These were hidden deep in the bush, along a valley and we followed the course of the rocky stream until we turned into the gardens themselves. There were 2 sections - one was a collection of ponds from dinky little pools to almost reaching lake size and had alsorts of fauna adorning them, along with the odd Maori sculpture and little whitticisms on placques. The other section was a large natural waterfall with pool beneath which was a 10 minute walk from the start. It was very relaxing and peaceful and made a good break from the monotony of driving.
We then arrived in Coromandel itself which again, appeared to be a small place with a llittle main street with the token hotel, general store and a few other shops. This is the last place to stock up on food before driving to the northern most point of the Coromandel Peninsula.
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