Coromandel Road Trip - Part 1!

Trip Start Mar 12, 2012
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Trip End Jul 10, 2012


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Where I stayed

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Thursday, March 22, 2012

 On Thursday my room mate Kim invited me to come to Coromandel with her, as she'd rented a car for the weekend and had a double room booked, so wanted a companion, and someone to give her driving directions. Before we went off, we drove to Muriwai Beach, which is about 45 mins from Auckland, to spend the afternoon there. Muriwai Beach has to be one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever been to. It seems to stretch out forever, especially with the mist rolling in from the sea. We got out the car and we immediately welcomed by a gorgeous dog, who we named Bob the beach dog. His tag had the local council's details on it, so we assumed he must just live on the beach or something! He was so sweet, and I got lots of cuddles off him. I needed a dog fix! The beach also had a fantastic cave, and a viewing platform where you could see the gannet colony. It was amazing! They're such beautiful birds, and the chicks were so sweet. Unfortunately, my camera decided to break as we were on the beach, so I didn't get many photos. But we're going back today, so I'll take some more with my new camera!

 Anyway, that evening, Kim and I set out for the drive to Coromandel. It had gotten dark by the time we were ready to leave, so we were a little apprehensive about the drive, but the roads were lovely and clear. It was an easy drive, until we got to a coastal road, with loads of twists and turns, and a drop on one side down to the sea! But we got to the hostel in one piece and settled in for the night.

 The next day, we were so tired after our drive that we didn't leave the hostel till 12pm. We decided to do the '309 Road', which we'd heard a lot about. The first stop we made was to see the 'wild' pigs. You can't miss them, as they hang around right next to the road. They're supposedly wild but are actually really tame and loved being stroked. We got out the car and said hello to them, one even rolled over so we could rub its belly! Then this guy Stuart came to chat to us. He's like the keeper/owner of the pigs, and looks after them. We were saying how sweet the babies were, when he went off, and brought back a tiny little baby pig! She was squealing away, and he handed her over to me, and I thought she'd hate being held. She did squeal for a minute but I just stroked her gently and she soon quietened down. We were chatting to Stuart, and he was telling us how people deliberately run over the pigs, sometimes just because they can't be bothered to slow down. It was so sad, they even run over the babies. Anyway, after a while, I looked down and noticed the pig's eyes had closed, and she had fallen asleep! Stuart said I must be a pig whisperer. She had gone all floppy, and was totally relaxed, so I gently tilted her onto her back, and cradled her like a baby. She loved it, and slept while I stroked her little belly! Stuart was so surprised, he said he'd never seen a pig do that before! We named her Felicity, and I desperately wanted to take her home with me! I'd love a pet pig! But I sadly handed her back, and we said goodbye to the pigs, and carried on along the road.

Our next stop was Waiau Falls, a small waterfall along the road. We walked down to see it, but had to clamber down some rocks to actually get to it, but it was a lovely little waterfall. 
 
Next we went to Castle Rock. It said in our information leaflet that it was an easy walk for normally fit adults and children to the top, taking about an hour to get there. The views were supposed to be fantastic, so we turned off the 309 onto a forest road, which was rough gravel and went up into the hills. We couldn't find any signs for the rock, so kept going up the road till we spotted something that looked like a path. We parked the car, grabbed our stuff, and started walking. The path immediately took us into the bush, and the ground was muddy and slippery, but flat (at first). It then started to become a vertical climb, and we had to use the rocks and roots to pull ourselves up. I don't know how long we climbed for (we were too busy clinging on the cliff side to check the time!), but it felt like forever. It was really tough going, especially as the path was wet and muddy, and we had to be really careful to make sure we had good footholds and something strong to hold on to. When the path got even steeper, we started worrying about how we were going to get down! But we had come so far we just had to keep going. Eventually we started being able to see the sky and the top of the rock so we pushed on. When we got close to the top, the path came out of the bush, and it became a climb up smooth rocks. Now, I really don't like heights, and the climbing up these rocks and being able to see how high we were really freaked me out, and I got to one really steep section, and just stopped. I knew if I did push myself and climb up it, then I would probably freak out on the way down, and be stuck there! So I turned around and checked out the view, which was amazing. Kim kept going to the top, which wasn't far, but quickly came down as it was swarming with insects! We then started our descent, which luckily wasn't as bad as we expected, and we got down pretty quickly. So much for an easy walk! We're still not sure if we took the right path, but we didn't see any other way to get up! 

 Finally, we went to see a kauri grove. Kauri are some of the biggest trees on earth, and they really are giants! I did the classic 'tree hug' too! They were really amazing. That was it for the day, and we headed back to the hostel for a well-earned rest!
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