So I left Paihia in the 'Bay of Islands' on Sunday 11th December and had a bit of an epic jounrey to Whitianga in the Coromandel area!! Firstly we went the 4 hours back to Auckland and then changed bus to go onto Whitianga, a coastal town in the coromnadel region. All was going well, was on a small minibus with just 5/6 people and we made a stop in Tairua, a little town just 45 mins short of my destination. Unfortunately my good luck of no mishaps so far had run out....the bus left without me...but with my rucksack!!! NOT GOOD!! Minor panic, my life for 6 months in a bag - gone! Thankfully the wee woman in the tourise info place in Tairua 'Pat' was an absolute star and rang around a million people and numbers trying to help me. To cut a long story short we got hold of someone in the bus company and they advised me to get the next bus onto Whitianga and they would ring the driver on his mobile and get him to drop my rucksack off at the hostel I was booked into...great plan. Problem was, I got to the hostel (The Cats Pyjamas) a few hours later to find that no rucksack had appeared. Cue the 2nd most helpful lady in New Zealand....Anne!! She randonly had the drivers personal mobile number and proceeded to ring him and give him a massive peace of her mind! HAHA, think I was the calmest person in the situation and it was my bag! The driver hadnt had a call from the bus company, he had noticed the rucksack in the back of the bus but hadnt really clicked what that had meant (duh!!!) so he had driven home merrily with it in the back!! So Anne leant me a t shirt to sleep in and a towel and thankfully I was booked onto a bus for the morning to move onto Coromandel town anyway, which the same bus driver was driving, so he agreed to bring my rucksack then ha!!
So had an odd 12 hours with no belongings in Whitianga! Lovely wee coastal town.
Monday 12th December morning I was reunited with my lovely beautiful rucksack!!! Phew!!! Bus took me to Coromandel...very apologetic sheepish bus driver haha!! Hostel in Coromandel was really lovely, called the 'Anchor Lodge' and is really lovely with wee wooden cabins etc and really good kitchen facilities etc. Even has a hot pool outside! Unfortunately the weather wasnt great but powered on and went on a Kauri tree walk with a girl I met a few days before who was also in my same hostel. Took some free bikes from the hostel and took a cycle around to get our bearings and visit the 'driving creek railway and potteries' place about 3kn out of town, not much to write home about but free to have a look around parts of it, so cant complain!! We then went to this amazing wee qwerky cafe nearby that did great cheap hot drinks and had free wifi...a rareity in new zealand! So made the most of that!! On Tuesday 13th I made use of the free bikes again and cycled to Coromandel Wharf to see all the wee fishing boats etc and saw some beautiful views over 'MacGregors Bay'. Cycled on round to a Caravan park which led onto a lovely walking path round to 'Tucks Bay' so did that wee walk. Coromandel has some beautiful little jewellery and gift shops so had a wee nose sround those. Enjoyed the usually mundane task of cooking a nice healthy tea back at the hostel!! I am really enjoying having access to a kitchen and fridge etc and being able to cook again! Sounds mad! But in south east asia none of the hostels have kitchen facilities and I guess food is so cheap to buy out anyway, you wouldnt need a kitchen area. But the new Zealand hostels all have great ktchen and living area facilities, its much more home like and you are able to spend some nights in, often they have free dvd library you can use etc. So feeling a bit more like home is nice.
Wednesday 14th and Thursday 15th I spent in the lovely town of Hahei, also in the coromandel region. Hahei was just 1,5 hours from Coromandel by bus on Wednesday so that was a nice short trip. The hostel in Hahei, 'Tatahi Lodge' was stunning! Wooden lodges again really but with really homely living area all decorated for christmas and the guy working there gave me some banana cake in the evening...doesnt take much to make me happy!! So from Hahei there are 2 main must do's - Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove. Hot Water beach is about 7 km out of Hahei so luckily a young Canadian couple kindly took me with them in their car. The hostel give you a spade and beach towel for free and bascially 2 hours either side of low tide you go to this beach, dig a hole in an area of the sand just between the rocks and the shore...and voila....hot water comes bubbling up and you have your very own hot spa pool! Was absolutely amazing and fascinating to see! Some areas of the water was so so hot you couldnt even stand in it and you could see the water bubbling where it was shallow enough, unreal! The reason the water gets so hot is because the beach sits over a volcanco site and it simply heats up the water above it...mad!!!
I also took the walk to Cathedral Cove from Hahei, it was a lovely walk and is known for its famous gigantic stone arch. On the walk there are some stunning little bays to see, I went to Stingray Bay.
Tomorrow I leave the Coromandel region and move onto the 'Bay of Plenty' area. Hahei was definitely a highlight of the Coromandel region for me, Hot Water Beach was just fascinating!!