Happy Kiwi New Year
Trip Start Sep 07, 2003
28Trip End Sep 07, 2004
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On New Year's Eve we joined the "bogans" (kiwi versions of Gary and Shazza) in the little town of Whitianga, a ten minute ferry ride across the bay from our campsite. Despite seeing in the New Year in a fairly civilised bar, we had our fair share of bevvies, and staggered back to the ferry in a drunken haze. Back in our campervan, Marcus managed to break the bed, and we ended up propping it up with a "chully bun" (kiwi for coolbox) for the rest of the holiday! (Marcus has instructions to mend it asap!)
Thankfully no hangovers on New Years Day, and we spent the morning lazing about our campsite opposite the pretty Flaxmill Beach
The next day, we got our act together and drove down to the nearby Hot Water Beach, so called because of the hot springs that well up under the sand. The hot water is accessible for two hours either side of low tide, by digging a hole and sitting in it. Along with dozens of other holidaymakers, we spent an hour or so frantically digging. Wanting a challenge, we rejected the spades for hire on the beach and struggled with a pan, a mug and half an empty milk carton! We got a challenge! The supposedly still out-going tide kept washing away our defensive wall and filling our hole, and we still hadn't found any hot water. So we gave up and joined the rest of the beach in the one pool that seemed to be hot - well there was room for little more than our big toes, but at least we could say we'd felt the hot springs.
Next stop was the jaw-droppingly stunning Cathedral Cove, which I can honestly say is the most beautiful beach I've ever seen (and I've seen a few on our travels to date) - even beating some of the stunners we've lazed about on in Oz and Thailand. The usual white sand, glistening blue sea, and the crimson pohutakawas surrounding the beach were joined by the striking white rock archway, which separates the beach into two and perfectly frames the striking wave-sculpted monolith at the far end of the bay
Pamela, Marcus and I strolled along the cliff-top walk down to this gorgeous beach, and then ran into the sea for a swim and a gawp at the stunning scenery.
On the Saturday we rendez-vous'd down at Hahei Beach (another stunner) for our sea kayak exploration of Mercury Bay. Our sun-kissed "surfer dude" kayak guides (known hereafter as "Smashy & Nicey" due to their comic radio-duo repartee) kitted us out with kayaks, life jackets and sexy waterproof "kayak skirts", gave us a quick paddling lesson, then pushed us out on to the waves. We zipped along the coast toward Cathedral Cove, and I found it surprisingly easy as the sea was calm and the sky slightly overcast staving off the burning sun of the previous two days. In fact, the bobbing motion of the waves made it more fun than river kayaking, and riding the breakers on to Cathedral Cove beach was great. A swim was followed by cappucinos on the beach whipped up by Smashy & Nicey (very civilised). Back on the sea, we kayaked over to a volcanic island, admired its phallic rock formations, paddled through a cave and rounded the rougher sea-ward side before beginning the last stretch back to Hahei Beach. I didn't want to stop and sea kayaking is definitely added to my list of favourite new activities!
On the last day of the holiday, Marcus and I headed inland to the mountains of the Coromandel where we did a fantastic climb/scramble up to a peak called Castle Rock. The tree-root and rock scramble up to the summit was great fun and the view from the top was incredible. The hills fell away to the coast on both sides, giving a peninsula-wide view of the Coromandel, east coast to west. We could even see the needle-shaped outline of the Auckland Skytower in the distance. Amazing!
The Coromandel is so beautiful, I find it hard to imagine what the rest of New Zealand is going to throw at us, especially when Chris, our resident Kiwi, says: "Coromandel? You think that's nice? You ain't seen nothing yet!"