We began our Coromandel peninsula adventure in Whitianga after a 2.5 hr drive from Auckland that culminated in some very curvy roads along the east coast. We found it a bit daunting but ok after a while and arrived safe and sound at the beachfront resort apartment on mercury Bay. ( so named by captain Cook as it was here he charted the transit of Mercury in 1769 before he landed in Botany Bay ) we dined at the fabulous Salt restaurant and bar right on Whitianga harbour so a beautiful setting to enjoy our first taste of this beautiful coast
We did not muck around and the next day and headed off to explore north stopping first at Kuaotunu for breakfast at the well known Lukes kitchen Cafe and enjoyed a nice stroll around the inlet and beach parks admiring our first real taste of the fabulous Pohutukawa ( New Zealand Christmas bush ) which was in flower both Red and yellow all along the coast.
We then headed east to Obama’s beach and then Whaorel Bay and onto Opito Bay which were all stunningly beautiful former farming communities now Auckland weekender and Holiday settlements
Otama beach had this fabulous Outhouse in the Beach gardens which was all Eco friendly so we dropped in for a sit.
Whangapoua was our next stop as we had heard good things about the area and one of its famous beaches, New Chums beach ! Yes strange name, hard to get to and really beautiful. It took a rough walk over the rocks and through a rough path to get there but it was unique and reminded me of a deserted beach in Thailand, especially with all the Euro backpackers there.
The rocks at the beach were like a Camel but not sure if they are called camel rocks. New Chums beach had some of the best christmas bush forests along with some amazing rock formations
Coromandel was next on our agenda and we crossed over the mountains passing copious quantities of possum road kill to the quaint village on the western shores of the peninsula . We enjoyed a lovely lunch at the peppercorn tree resturant and wandered the interesting shops before doing a little exploration and then heading back over the mountain pass.
The mountain scenery along the drives is spectacular
back In Whitianga we took in the local attractions especially the Lost Springs Spa where some ingenious fellow has drilled down 1,600m to tap into the thermal springs and has created a little fantasy world of ponds and springs to enjoy. We spent half a day there enjoying a great massage, sumptuous lunch and plenty of Hot Spring water time.
Mercury bay and Whitianga beach was our home for 3 days and the setting right on the beach was lovely. The beach walks were really nice and the very flat surface made the beach combing fascinating.
we wanted to visit the Hot water beach and dropped into Hahei beach a beautiful coastal Hamlet with a stunning headland park and vista out to the Goat Islands and beyond.
Hahei beach as seen from Te Pare reserve. Along this walk we saw the biggest Pohutukawa trees on our journey. We stopped in at a beautiful coastal bay called Tairua and lunched at the Old Mill cafe right on the river front looking out over the beautiful beach of pauanui on the other side. The river was a very popular boating harbour with good deep water access to the ocean.
Next stop was Whangamata heading down towards the Bay of Plenty. It is a famous surfing beach but the swell was missing for our stay other than few 1ft waves out the front of our Bach ( kiwi holiday shack)
It was an interesting place, part Woy Woy with its flat dry landscape and part Nelson bay with its vibrant shopping and resturant strip with a strong surfing culture underpinning it all. Our very comfortable Beach Bach ( pronounced Batch) was right on the southern end of the double bay of Whangamanat ( pronounced Phongamamta )
We then headed to Tauranga on our way to Rotorua to visit some friends who were part of the RER Network back in the early days and who are now living there near their daughters. It was great catching up with Neil & Julie at the Riverfront resturant and spending time with them in their lovely part on NZ. The surf there is good but not today and Neil is a very keen surfer and fitness fanatic
We headed for Rotorua and were staying at Wildwood Lodge on the shores of Lake Rotoehu just 15 mins to the east of Rotorua. The setting on the Lake shore was stunning and our cabin was just perfect. The gardens and the main house were beautifully executed and our Hosts were the perfect people to be running such a small intimate establishment. The meals and hospitality were out of this world and i am sure we added a few Kilos in just a few days.
The blue and green lakes were not far away and were our first port of call after a set of recommendations from Sara our hostess. we took a walk along the forest trails to get a feel for the country side
The next stop was the fabulous Redwood Forests of Rotorua, an amazing site of 100 year old Californian Redwood trees plated as a test case for Forestry around the turn of the century. it is now a massive park and the natural Kiwi forest is slowly asserting itself in amongst the towering invaders. there are some great trails running though from here to all over the Rotorua area.
The town of Rotorua is an interesting mix of traditional ornate timer buildings and boom time 60’s developments but it all works and the place is fairly laid-back. the main museum is currently closed after being deemed unstable after a minor tremor when everyone went into damage control and closed it down. looks OK to me and the locals say it has withstood worse and had no issues but i am not the expert and after $20mil to fix it one day it will reopen!!. There was a lovely walk through traditional Kiwi bush between Lake Rotoehu and Lake Rotoiti that is part of an old Maori path with a great legend around an old tree that a prince was born it. you cant miss it as you drive along as it has a barrier around it
The hot springs of Wairoa Bay ( Soda Springs ) on Rotoehu Lake, are on Maori land were also a recommendation from our hosts and they were a great find and for just a few $ we enjoyed the natural thermal qualities which are non-filtered and coming straight out of the ground. a great experience.
Te Puia Gyser park and Maori Village were our next stop and the Geyser did not disappoint. after a 40 min wait it went off for a good 30 mins. the various blue ponds, mud holes, steam vents etc in the park were all fascinating and worth there visit.
We cruised around the Various lakes and sights of Rotorua before heading back to Auckland via Hamilton where we dropped into see our friends at Lughtons Real Estate and enjoyed lunch with Simon & Claire .