The open road was finally ours, we picked up our beautiful Timmy the transporter and were on our way to sun, sea and sand. Travelling up the west coast of the peninsula following the pacific coast route we were in awe of the spectacular views. The road ran the whole way along the coast just metres from the sea and below rather frightening looking cliffs and mountains. The road snaked through the mountains as we climbed further up the peninsula, finally arriving at a beautiful beach called Long Bay, just outside of Coromandel Town. The bay was sheltered by headline stretching either side and a group of islands surrounded us in the distance. We pulled the camper up and sat by the beach enjoying the sunshine and views.
We later when off exploring the forest behind, looking out for the native Kauri trees. The walk took us round to a secluded beach called tucks bay. It was beautiful. We later walked back to the camper and went for a swim in the sea. Expecting to embrace the cold as I ran down to the water I was pleasantly surprised to find out the water was really warm.
After entertaining some of the other campervaners by pratting around in the sea we decided it was a good idea to head back to the shore to go get showered and make tea. However not before a go on the tyre swing that hung down perfectly from a tree in the centre of the bay. I climbed in just managing to squeeze my bum into the tyre and began swinging. Upon getting out realised that maybe I'm a bit big for tyre swinging as the tyre was tricky to pull back off. However this didn't deter Danny in trying to do one better than me. He valiantly climbed into the rope swing struggling to get it over his head and past his shoulders. But to save face a perceive red until the tyre was sat round his waste. He then proceeded to swing but quickly stopped as the sunburn on his legs was catching on the tyre. He then began to try and get out and realised he was stuck. In fits of giggles I fell about laughing, alerting the rest of the campsite about what was going on. Fellow campers began to stare as Danny frantically tried to get out wining each time he trapped his sunburnt legs and arms. I then thought as I was providing little help in offering strength holding up the tyre for him to get out, I would be of far greater help running back to get a camera to document his failure. The whole saga ended with Danny falling face first out of the swing in a kind of seal like manner.
The next day we drove over to the east side of the peninsula and tried a bit of off roading on their unsealed, cliff side, winding roads. The drive was scary at parts but totally worth it. We arrived at Opere beach. A long stretch of white sand, beautiful sand dunes and bright blue sea. We jumped out the van ready to explore and found the beach was completely deserted. No one else in sight, not even foot prints in the sand.
After a while at the beach the weather became windy so we decided to drive on to Whitianga for lunch. But what we didn't realise the weather in Whitianga was even worse cold, rainy and windy. We didn't hang around long. Grabbed some food and got back on the road ready to find somewhere to camp for the night. We went to Hahei, a legendary kiwi beach town. The beach was stunning and we got a lovely spot to park for the night just behind the sand dunes. The beach was beautiful white sand and went on for ages. We decided to do some exploring as the sun began to set and found ourselves another rope swing that swung out it to the sea but required leaping off a rock. Although the whole idea screamed disaster considering we were fully clothed and jumping from a great height but it provided us with hours of entertainment.
The next day the sun was shining again and we were ready for exploring some more beaches. We took a 45 minute coastal walk along the headland from Hahei round to Cathedral cove. When we were arrived we both stunned by the beauty of the beach, white sand, white cliffs and turquoise sea. It was picture perfect. To the left of the beach was an arch that had been carved by the waves, we braved it through the water under the arch hitching our shorts up and battling the waves. We got through to a secluded white sandy beach with a distant views of other stacks and islands. We spent most of the day taking pictures and being munched by the waves then later afternoon retreated in time for low tide.
We needed to reach our next destination hot water beach at low tide. We came armed with a spade and headed over to the far end of the beach to make our own geothermal pool in the sand. It was hilarious there were loads of people trying to do the same thing. Crowds of people all clustered in this same one spot of the beach. If you dug in the right spot you come across hot water from the geothermal reservoirs below. However a foot either side and the water can be ice cold. After much unsuccessful spot finding and digging we were invited to share a pool another couple had successfully made. The water was incredibly warm, at one end of the pool it was unbearably hot you couldn't sit or stand to close but the other end was lovely and warm. The temperatures can rise to as much as 64 degrees centigrade. We stayed in the pool enjoying the warm water until we had both turned wrinkly then decided maybe we had been there long enough.
We drove on to Whangamata to stay for the evening. Planning to park near the estuary where at times you may chance a sighting of whales or dolphins. However.....as lovely as this sounds the reality was quite different. As we had just pulled up to our space near the marina a local pulled up next to us seemingly helpful and polite. Inquisitive about where we were from and of our plans. We conversed politely back and were then locked in conversation for a further 2 hours. He took us into the marine club to have our pictures taken in front of plastic fish mounted to the walls, with all its club members looking on at us and giggling. We had to try so hard not to laugh ourselves. He then showed us his meat he had one in his meat draw and we swiftly made our way back to the van. Before I'd manage to drive away he came and knocked at the window and proceeded to get a random selection of his favourite photos out of the glove box of his car. He went on in detail about each photo then invited us back to his house to see all of his roman artefacts and Salisbury merchandise and plaque. He went through every item nod had us taking pictures. He then scurried off to get his wet Salisbury tshirts out the wash so he could pose for a picture wearing it. Then took it off and carried on the last half hour of the conversation topless. After a highly informative and incredibly random few hours we finally escaped to set up camp for the night. We were utterly speechless as we pitched up in the dark and made tea. We couldn't quite comprehend what had just happened. and sadly had little joy of spotting whales.
For our last day on the coromandel we visited Waihi and Waihi Beach. The two places are miles apart and couldn't be more different. We explored the beach collecting lots of shells but as the weather began to turn we headed for Waihi town where we visited the gold mine.
The town was steeped in history as being a mining town and had lots of exhibits everywhere you looked. We went on an hour long walk around the edge of the working mine. Finding out each truck we saw in the quarry was carrying 100 tonnes of stone/minerals/rock and for each 100tonnes around 1 teaspoon of silver or gold would be extracted. The trucks carry the stone were worth £1.6million each and each tyre cost £11,000 to replace. After our long walk around the mine we did what all NZs do....We went for a coffee! A quaint little Eco cafe up for lots of awards called the Ti-Tree cafe. We then headed off for time with Mike and Claire in Rotorua.