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Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Coromandel
January 25th 2010
Published: January 25th 2010
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It's not all in the planning



I am not often impromptu when it comes to planning trips but this turned out to be one of them. I had written Coromandel on our calendar from the beginning of January when I had gotten my list of shifts but that was as far as it went except for the occasional question of 'Are we going to the Coromandel?' which never really got answered. Suddenly it's Wednesday and I start talking out loud of what we can do on the weekend as I have just done a run of 8 shifts in a row and am looking forward to the time off! Hubby mentions the Coromandel and before I know it I am booking us into a hostel for two nights in Coromandel Town. I write up a quick list of the essentials things that we have to do, okay for those who know me well enough the list actually looks something like this:

Friday Drive the Pacific Highway Coast, Sea bird coast, stop in Thames and maybe do the mining tour or visit the museum, head to Coromandel Town and do the rapaura water gardens.

Saturday Northern Coromandel?

Sunday Drive to Whitianga via Opamere and Opito beaches, have lunch in Whitianga, then head to Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach, then drive back to Auckland! An ambitious day?

Of course it is only after I have booked where to stay that we hear maybe staying in Whitianga is the better option and that the east coast is prettier (yes I secretly start biting my nails at this point). Then again it is only the night before that we start realising that maybe the weather is not going to be the best and sure enough we wake up on Friday to dark clouds and rain. We will not be defeated so we put on fake smiles, fill the car up with gas and off we head. Actually as soon as we leave Auckland the rain eases up and it does not seem as such a bad day after all.



The Pacific Highway



Is not all that it's cracked up to be and hubby and I would have probably been happier just taking the highway. It's actually a very windy road with only a few pretty spots. The lack of pictures and ohs and ahs expresses everything about the kind of time I was having. Actually I forgot to take my travel sickness pills which made things a hell of a lot worse for me. The road finally straightened out as we headed to Miranda at which point I was not really interested in looking at the birds which the place is known for. So all in all I was pretty happy when we reached the cue to the take the infamous single lane bridge over to Kopu.



Thames and Tapu



Finally we arrive at our first official stop which is great because I am desperate to get out of the moving vehicle! Hubby had done a tour of a mine before and said it was a pretty cool experience so we thought we could check out The Goldmine Experience. Overall a short but sweet stop which we did not regret though the walk through the actually mine is limited. I myself was overwhelmed to see all the old machinery working and it was cool to learn how it was all done especially as our tour guide was knowledgeable and pretty enthusiastic about it all. Unfortunately we were not able to take
It's not just a signIt's not just a signIt's not just a sign

Rapaura Water Gardens
any gold home! So before I knew it we were facing another winding coastal road to Coromandel Town and due to the weather we were treated to the waves crashing up against and yes sometimes over the road. Next stop was the Rapaura Water Gardens which was excellent as it was also time for some lunch. The gardens are breathtakingly beautiful and I was as usual camera happy. They have these wonderful sayings written on wooden signs as you walk along which speak a lot of truth, great art sculputres, huge lily ponds and quirky water features which all adds up to a rather relaxing atmosphere. I don't know about your mother but I knew mine would just love this place! Unfortunately you can't take your lunch with you through the gardens but they had a decent picnic spot which served us well.



We finally arrive in Coromandel town feeling a bit tired and decide to just relax at our hostel before going out for dinner. Before you ask, we stay at a hostel for the fact that it is cheap and so we can not feel too guilty about going out to eat, and boy dinner
The water liliesThe water liliesThe water lilies

Rapaura Water Gardens
that night was worth every penny! We went to the Pepper Tree Restaurant and we both started with yummy Coromandel mussels, a must do! For my main I had the ribs and it was a full rack of ribs served with massive chunky chips and salad...lets just say I was lucky to make it through the ribs. After dinner we went for a night out on the town...ok so maybe it was just a few drinks at the local while listening to some live music.



Beach Day?



So it did not take a lot of discussion for us to decide that maybe heading to the Far North Coromandel was not all that practical. We decided that Saturday we would do a few of the beaches and there is no better way to start your day than visiting Munchie's Deli Bakehouse Coromandel. Sweet or savoury they have it all! I was not sharing any of my doughnut with cream with the birds and hubby's pie was stuffed full with bacon!

The sun was not shining bright today but by mid afternoon it cleared and we were happy! We headed to New Chums because I had read
The Pepper TreeThe Pepper TreeThe Pepper Tree

Coromandel Town
that it was voted as one of the top twenty beaches in the world and we just love thinking that we have visited these places. We arrived at Whangapoa beach and thought this beach is pretty nice so we were pretty expectant as New Chums was supposed to be better. It's a short uncomplicated walk around the headland until you arrive to a long stretch of white sand with crystal blue waves crashing against the beach. We went for a beautiful surreal walk with hubby jumping up every now and again as a wave crashed so he would not get his trousers wet. It was everything and more than we thought it would be.

After we glimpsed Otama Beach before heading down an unsealed road (which hubby was not to impressed with the condition of) to Opito Bay. We sat on a bench and watched the brave souls swimming in what we know is freezing cold water! The clouds rolled in so it was a good excuse not to do much other than people watch. Otama was described in the guide as the Coromandel's best kept secret (surely not after they have just advertised it!) so we head back,
Night out on the townNight out on the townNight out on the town

Coromandel Town
grab the towels from the trunk and set up shop. It only takes a few minutes for hubby to catch some zzz's. Unfortunately every great day must end.



309 Road, Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach



It's the last day of our grand tour of the Coromandel and as we can't take the same road as we took yesterday so today we are taking the 309 road straight to Cathedral Cove. It has been described as a well maintained sealed road so I guess we see how we go. It's only a quick 5 minute stop to park the car and see the Waiau Falls and then off again to see the Kauri Grove and the length of this stop I guess depends if you are as enamoured as we are with these big and fascinating trees. We have seen Tane Mahuta and were blown away by the king of the forest but there is definitely something better about being able to see a cluster of the kauri trees. We spent a lot of the times just looking up and yes I took a cheesy photo just to show how grand they are as I could not get my arms around it...well duh I know it was obvious but it added perspective.

We found our way to Cathedral Cove along with the rest of the masses, yes it is a very popular destination. We found a parking spot at the top of the hill as there was no way hubby was going to park at the bottom and make his way back up and just in case you are wondering there is a parking lot it was just that busy. We weren't sure if we would be blocking the road too much which was pretty funny as when we came back later that afternoon there were more cars squashed behind us! So how long does it take to get to Cathedral Cove? Well the sign at the top says 45minutes and the guide says about 20 minutes and I guess it is somewhere in between. In any case it was not a difficult trek down to the bottom of the hill and the end definitely justified the means. It was busy but it was still enjoyable. The rock formations were dramatic, the water looked ever tempting and remained ever cold and the shade from the pohutukawa trees was beautiful (and I am sure even better when they are all in bloom). We found a shady spot to have our picnic before hubby managed to catch a few of his usual zzz's (something by the way that he refuses to admit to but he does do all the driving so it does not bother me) and for some reason I decide it's a good idea to go for a swim. The water just looks so tempting but it remains very very cold!

The clouds start rolling in so we decide to head to Hot Water Beach our final destination. Of course there were no plans of really digging any holes and burning our bums but we were thinking that we would find hordes of other people doing it. On arrival after a short walk to the hot pools there was actually no one digging which was crazily a bit disappointing. In the end for us it just ended up being another walk along another one of New Zealand's great beaches and certainly not a bad way to finish our day and weekend getaway.



Overall the Coromandel is unspoilt, majestic and green. For those of you who have heard the rumours that it is similar to Scotland, Ireland or the British Isles it is quite true. It reminded me of the Isle of Skye which made it rather romantic as it was where hubby proposed. Staying in Coromandel Town was not a disappointment but the east coast is definitely prettier and we kept taking these imaginary photos of the scenery as we were travelling along! If you visit anywhere in the North Island please head to the Coromandel Peninsula!


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Kauri Grove


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