A Travellerspoint blog

Day 43 Hot Water Beach to Auckland

Bays, mussels, waterproof

sunny 20 °C

It's only the day after a swim in a hot pool on the beach that the benefits of waterproof bank notes really sinks in. Perfectly serviceable $35 plucked from my swimmers that back home, had it been the case that it was a beautiful hot day and we had hot water pools on the beach, and that id been stupid enough to leave money in my pocket, would have been reduced to pulp. So on reflection perhaps it's a good thing that we don't get much decent weather or have hot pools or I might be skint. It also says a lot about the New Zealand way of life and our way of life back home. Here it is all outdoors, surfing, kayaking, swimming, fishing and generally being near water, back home, although equally surrounded by water the risk of getting your money wet is much reduced. I love the fact that N.Z. has waterproof money, it says a lot about their attitude.

I've been cheating of late and attempting to post the blog for the day, before the actual end of the day, so it's only fair that I should get caught out and need to share our sunset from last night. This should be in yesterday's blog....but there you go.

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We set off from Hot Water Bay campground (probably the best campsite in the world ...see yesterday's blog) having had breakfast and a full on FaceTime/Skype session, so we are full and uplifted from contact with loved ones from home. We head North up State Highway 25 and soon reach Whitianga, pronounced 'Fhitianga' where we see the next section of this amazing coastline. We continue North to Kuaotuna and yet another fabulous beach. Not space for it on the blog, but a 2 km stretch of beach that had no-one on it, at all. From here we head West across the Peninsular towards Coromandel Town along the Whangapoua Road which reaches its highest point after numerous hairpins and provides us with our first views of the Coromandel Peninsular's West coast

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Lunch is at Coromandel Mussel Kitchen just 3 kms South of Coromandel Town itself and specialising in the local green lip Coromandel mussels. A favourite of mine I must confess. I highly recommend this stop off as a place to eat. We enjoyed lots of mussels, beer and the wonderful setting with bird of paradise flowers in the garden where we ate. This picture of me and the bird of paradise is Dottie's second blog entry.

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Finley couldn't wait for his mussels. The thought of them made him dribble even more than usual.

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Now heading South, the road sticks to the coast and we see the Firth of Thames

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It's just an endless winding road South with massive sea and sky scapes to our right the whole way down to Thames, at the foot of the peninsular and at the Southerly most point of the Firth of Thames.

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It's as we pull away from Thames and the beautiful Coromandel peninsular that both Nat and I get that 'New Zealand is over' feeling, and neither of us are ready. The drive has taken us longer than we thought and as much as we'd like to go right into Auckland and be with friends we decide enough is enough and opt for a campsite short of Auckland and nearer the airport for the morning. Tomorrow is Sydney. There are no trick or treaters visiting the campsite.......shame. Kids wrapped up in bed we call Sydney to arrange collection of our keys for the apartment and continue to look for campervans in Cairns, with no joy. It seems all campervans in the week of the 8-14th Nov are booked out. Still we have a week to sort that out, so it can wait.

It's eat and drink everything in the van night......not good for the diet. Not able to take anything with us it's either waste or waist!!

If all goes well next blog update will be from Tamarama Bay, Sydney.

Posted by cpbrooks 00:54 Archived in New Zealand Comments (5)

Day 42 Hot Water Beach

Beach, cove, spa

sunny 20 °C

The campsite at Hot Water Beach is worth a mention. It's probably the best I've seen in terms of facilities anywhere in the world. Only 4 years old it is obvious the owners get camping. I'd recommend it to anyone passing this way ever. It's also just a 5 minute walk from Hot Water Beach itself so is perfect for anyone planning to dig their own hot water pool on the beach, they even hire shovels for $5. Our challenge for today is that digging hot pools is only possible 2 hours either side of low tide and low tide is at 2.15pm, so we need to visit Cathedral Cove and hike to the beach there and be back no later than 2ish.

Sadly its grey first thing and looks like being a day without sunshine.

Cathedral Cove is just 6 kms North of Hot Water Beach at a place called Hahei, so it's an easy drive and then about a 40 minute walk up the coast North of Hahei to Cathedral Cove. There is no road into the cove and it's either a hike or visiting by boat. No other options. We see the kayak trip setting off from Hahei Beach which is one of the few operators licences to land on Cathedral Cove. We are both very envious but know its impossible with Dot and Finn on board. The view from the trailhead car park back over Hahei Beach is beautiful. We see the kayaks making their way up the coast below us.

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Heading out on the walk we can actually see the large stack that is off Cathedral Cove just up the coast. It looks a long way from here with 30 lbs of Dottie strapped to me. Surprisingly the weather picks up and it turns hot.

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There are actually 4 coves on the walk, Cathedral Cove being the furthest of them. We first stop at Gemstone Bay which requires a significant amount of steps down and steps back up again. Having done this we decide to skip Stringray Bay and head straight for Cathedral Cove, already overheated and concerned about the low tide window at Hot Water.

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Reaching Cathedral Cove is one of those wow moments. You actually arrive in Mares Leg Cove, which is the third and equally spectacular cove, but you can see through the natural arch into Cathedral.

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Passing through the arch, which is probably some 30 metres or side in length, we are breath taken by the sand, the crashing surf, the array of islands off the coast and the big stack, standing tall, it's bottom being eaten into by the endless pounding of the tide.

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We take some time to play, have a drink and a bite to eat and to watch the kayakers set off through the surf to return to Hahei. None of us want to leave, it's one of those places.

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We get back to Hot Water Beach, knock up a picnic, hire a shovel and hit the beach at about 1.45. Not bad. However, we are not alone and we soon discover that finding hot water under the sand isn't as easy as it might sound, given that the world and his wife are there. Some people have very established sand pools built with towering walls. Our initial endeavours lead to cold water although we are only metres away from steaming pools that would be too hot for the kids. The geothermal hot springs make the sand and the pools that people have dug steam. It's amazing to see. The skill is to get a mix of hot and cold water to give just the right temperature. Thankfully I manage to jump into a perfectly engineered pool with just the right temperature as people depart (I'm pretty sure they were Germans....hence the quality) and we enjoy a lovely couple of hours in what can only be described as a bath on the beach. We watch as the sea slowly reclaims the hot pools one by one (you can see Nat and the kids in our pool right in the middle of this picture)

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The kids love it.

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Come 4pm we are all exhausted, especially Finn who is all but asleep in our hot pool on the beach, and we head back to the campsite. A fabulous day in The Coromandel. We just feel like we need more time here and haven't scratched the surface

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Posted by cpbrooks 02:30 Archived in New Zealand Comments (3)

Day 41 Rotorua to Hot Water Beach

Sulphur, geyser, champagne, phone bill

semi-overcast 17 °C

It transpires that the £352 monthly phone bill is largely made up of one phone call. A little 6 hours and 3 second number to Britz, the company we have hired the beauty from. A single £230 odd call. Great. Culprits are either my pocket, or Dottie, we aren't sure. O2 are investigating and will let us know in 5 days......

Rotorua is all about geothermal activity. The whole place smells of rotten eggs, but they say you get used to it. It certainly doesnt stop some 3 million people visiting every year and it being one of the main tourist attractions of the North Island. We decide to head down some 27kms South of Rotorua to the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland as it is called. We manage to get lucky and witness the Lady Knox Geyser letting off steam

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...although, you can always get lucky on a daily basis at 10.15 every morning with this geyser as she is made to spout with a little prompting from some organic soap they put down here.

Much of the vegetation around the area is covered in trentepohlia, which is a reddish brown coloured and replaces the natural greens of the normal moss we see.

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We pass down through what is called Champagne Pool where the water is 74 c at the surface and the minerals contained in the water, which include gold, silver, mercury, sulphur, arsenic and thallium, cause these amazing colours.

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At the furthest point on the 3km walk we reach Lake Ngakoro

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Close to the end of the trail is Devil's Bath, yet further stunning colours

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Having completed the trail and finally got used to the smell of sulphur we head off to the Mud Pool, Nats favourite. It doesn't let us down and provides a continuous blob and plop noise as the gases bubble up through the mud to the surface.

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Running short of time we head off North to Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsular via Tauranga, Mt Maunganui, Waihi, Whangamata and Tairua, noticing the change from largely open fields of cattle and sheep into the Coromandel Forest

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There are splendid beaches all the way up the East coast of the Coromandel and it grieves us to be rushing by so quickly. This is just one example at Whangamata.

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I think we have realised that even if we had had 12 days in North Island it wouldn't have been enough, but getting out of L.A. late and only getting 10 is more of a problem that we had realised. We have so much that we haven't been able to do....we'll have to come back. Somewhen.

Posted by cpbrooks 04:18 Archived in New Zealand Comments (2)

Day 40 Raglan to Rotorua

Sand, wharf, spa, wifi, mussels

semi-overcast 16 °C

To be honest today was all about the morning. It got slowly worse as the day went by, except for those of us with a spa treatment to brighten up the late afternoon. It was an early start, making the most of the time we had left in Raglan we were out walking on the beach with Neil by 7am. Dot loved playing with Neil as we walked along in the surf. A moody day, the black sand adding to the grey sky to take away all but the very strongest of colours.

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Scrambled eggs and beans back at the bach before gathering our things. Neil planned to show us the wharf and so we said goodbye to Paula and Joe, writing in the visitors book as we went. I can't recall what I wrote, but someone had put 'live the life you love and love the life you live' and I can't help remembering how appropriate the statement felt here in Raglan. People here do a lot for themselves. There are people building baches, boats, helping out at the golf club and generally taking more of a hands on, DIY approach than back home. They still have the fix it not throw it mentality.lts nice.

Down at the wharf we have coffee and say our goodbyes to Neil.

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Raglan harbour brightens up to see us off and we head for Rotoru, some two hours away, via Hamilton

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So Nat cashes in the spa 'voucher' from the golf while I take the kids around Pak'n'Save. Nat gets covered in mud stuff that then gets gentle sprayed off to be replaced by a coconut body massage, and I get two kids round a crowded supermarket, struggle with umpteen bags and fill the beauty with gas (petrol)........ It still remained a good deal.

At the campsite we bags a pitch amongst what can only be described as a caravan graveyard, but the facilities are good and there is wifi (or so we thought). It was particularly important to have wifi tonight because we wanted to FaceTime Maureen for her 70 th birthday. We also needed to get in contact with O2 following a number of missed calls from them, texts and now an email stating we had spent £352 over my usual monthly fee (ouch!!). We pay $10 for 24hrs wifi so you can imagine how unpleasant I become when I find at 9.45 (dinner and kids out the way) that it stops working. The office at the site shuts at 10pm. I rush down. Donna on the desk wouldn't know one end of a computer from the other and I'm getting more frustrated. I call the wifi companies support line (most of the campsites have companies setup the wifi for them) and speak to a guy who talks me through rebooting the router in the campsite office (Donna being more than happy to let me take over). Support stops at 10pm so we are lucky. I check it works, return to the beauty and by the time I get back to the internet, it's 10.10pm and the bloody thing has crashed again. Donna's gone, support is now an answer machine. I lose!! Very not happy.

We do enjoy the giant green lip mussels that I bought as a surprise for Nat though

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Posted by cpbrooks 03:07 Archived in New Zealand Comments (3)

Day 39 Raglan

Balls, breakfast, breakers

sunny 17 °C

It's been a while since I had the chance to have a round of golf with Neil, so it's no surprise that setting off at 7am for 9 holes around the Raglan Golf Course is rather an exciting moment. It will be the first time I've ever played golf in cut down jeans, a t-shirt and sandals. It's only as we approach the first green that we realise we don't have a putter with us. The grass is wet, we lose balls all over the place and we take a while to settle into putting with a ladies 7 wood. These things aside its great to be out early with Neil and we enjoy avoiding sheep shit and clearing sheep off the greens as we go. 

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I get suitably embarrassed with Neil 4 up with 3 to play, over 9 holes. 

The day improves once we rejoin Nat and the kids and find ourselves in The Shack, a fab little cafe in the middle of Raglan, for a full on breakfast. There are some great little shops in Raglan and I can't resist being the tourist and picking up a 'Raglan' t-shirt in all my favourite colours. We head back up to the batch and are delighted to see that Paula and Joe have already joined us for the weekend from Auckland. We pick lemons in the neighbours garden and enjoy the sun.

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Neil and Dottie enjoy a sneaky ice cream before we set off for Manu Beach to watch Joe surf on some of the worlds best left hand breakers. It's great to see Dottie so comfortable with Neil, Paula and Joe (although wary of Joe initially....and only brought onside because Joe gave her the ice cream). Joe is actually in this shot, I'm just not sure which one of the tiny black dots on the water he is.

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One good thing about having the beauty with you all the time is that you also have the fridge....and therefore cold beers. Sharing one with my son will be frowned upon by the grandmothers no doubt, but Finn seemed to enjoy it!!

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Joe joins us from the surf and it seems Joe and Dottie are now best friends and all Dot wants to do is take pictures of him.

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Our second 9 holes of the day was an altogether much more successful affair, although we still had no putter. We both started to at least it the balls and not lose too many, ending up all square after both of us playing our best ever (and all with a ladies 7 wood as a putter!!) 50 for 9 holes is not everyone's idea of good, but we were both very happy. However, it did cost me a spa treatment at Rotorua. Thanks Nat.

Steaks on the BBQ and the cryptic crossword made for another good evening and we were done. A fabulous day in Raglan, thanks to the Stuarts.

Posted by cpbrooks 12:41 Archived in New Zealand Comments (3)

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