From Mount Maunganui I had a stopover for one night in Thames - an old Gold mining town. As it was Sunday, there really wasn't much going on but I went for a walk around anyway. I walked along the coast, but it wasn't exactly pretty or exciting. It was really only somewhere that I stopped because I had to, to catch the bus the next day.
The next day was the start of my Coromandel connection. Heading out into the Coromandel Peninsula, the first major stop was at Cathedral Cove. BUT once again, the weather had wrecked the track, so it wasn't possible to walk to the 'world famous' Cove. The weather was overcast so I don't expect it would have looked that spectacular anyway. We could walk part of the way though, to two of the bays on the way to the Cove - Gemstone Bay and Stingray Bay. They weren't really anything special though, and we just got really muddy shoes walking down to them cos the track was really muddy. I think that is the first time since leaving home that I've had to worry about having muddy shoes!
After the non-event that was Cathedral Cove, we moved on to Hot Water Beach. This is basically a beach which has hot springs underneath it, so if you dig a hole in the right place, you can make your own little spa pool. I didn't actually dig my own cos the driver hadn't brought his spade, but I went paddling in pools that other people had dug and they were really nice and warm! In some places you could actually just stand on the sand and feel boiling hot water coming out through it. You couldn't stand there for too long cos it burnt your feet! After the beach, we headed on to Whitianga, where I decided to stop for a couple of days.
Tuesday 22nd February was the day of the Earthquake in Christchurch. The weather in the morning was a bit dull, so after going for a bit of a walk around the town, I went back to my hostel for lunch and to wait for the clouds/drizzle to clear up. I was watching tv at the moment the news broke and then I ended up spending a couple of hours watching the coverage. A bit later on, the weather cleared up and the sun came out, so I went for a walk along the nearby coast with a girl I met in the hostel. We took the ferry from Whitianga across to the other side of a very small waterway and started following a track from there. We first walked through the bush and up a hill to a lookout over Flaxmill Bay. We then came back down towards the beach in Maramaratotara Bay, and walked along the beach to Shakepeare's cliff. We then walked up the cliff to a lookout point, with awesome views out to sea, and down the other side to two beaches - Lonely Bay and Cook's Beach. After seeing them from above, we walked down to the two beaches before heading back.
Tonight I am spending the night in Coromandel Town - yet another not very exciting gold mining town. I met up with Giulia (who i met on the Magic bus about a month ago and haven't seen since) and we went for a walk round the town to see all of the historical landmarks. The hostel we were staying in had a lawn out the back and had a really nice view of the sunset.