This week the cloud and rain moved in, both literally and metaphorically. We
drove north directly from Taupo to Auckland in time for the weekend’s big
quarter-finals, which we had tickets to see. After witnessing the disappointing
England loss first hand, we enjoyed being a neutral as New Zealand survived a
scare to beat Argentina.
Leaving Auckland for a week’s exploring of the Coromandel peninsula, we
were less than enthusiastic to hear the storm warning on the weather forecast.
Unfortunately, the prophetic words turned out to bear fruit. I have rarely seen
such a consistent downpour but luckily the Backpacker campervan is a cosy place
to weather a storm.
Glimpses through the cloud every now and then revealed just how stunning the
Coromandel Peninsula is; it’s just a shame that we haven’t seen it in its best
light. However, there is still plenty to do and see.
Overnighting in Shelley Bay – a campsite on the edge of the sea – we drove to
the east coast, and stopped for two nights in Mercury Bay, in the town of
Whitianga. There, we found the perfect respite to the ongoing weather; the Lost
Springs. This is a spa with naturally-heated outdoor pools of varying
temperature. The well-constructed ambience and the Hawaiian music (plus a
cocktail or two) meant that we relaxed immediately and completely, with the
drizzling rain a pleasure rather than a hindrance.
We then visited Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach. Again, Cathedral Cove is
beautiful, but it was frustrating to catch it on a cloudy day. Hot Water Beach
however, was incredibly interesting. There are no surprises – it does exactly
what it says on the tin. Digging in the sand at low tide results in bubbling hot
water filling your hole, and creating a self-made outdoor spa. The water is so
hot in places that it almost burns – an amazing natural phenomenon and great
To complete the Coromandel week, we trekked up the Pinnacles. The guide books
advise doing the trek over two days, staying in a log cabin in the rainforest at
the base of the Pinnacle track itself, and an average 3hrs trek uphill. Short on
time and plentiful in confidence, we decided to attack the trek and return in
one day, eventually returning weary 5hrs later. Once again, the clouds conspired
against us so that the view from the top was of a blank grey canvas. However,
the promotional pictures and glimpses that we saw, promise yet more stunning
views. Apparently you are able to see both the east and west coasts on a clear
day. Unfortunately we are unable to support that claim!
A day on the glorious beach at Whangamata now beckons (with the sun shining
through today) before heading back to Auckland for the weekend’s rugby. We
continually count ourselves lucky in the knowledge that we are seeing New
Zealand in the best way possible. And that everything we are doing would not be
possible were we not to have a campervan to allow us to travel and stay in a
multitude of locations with ease.
As the closing stages of the rugby arrive, we are disappointed to have to
count down the number of days of our trip left. We have one more week of
adventure to complete, and if the past 5 weeks are anything to go by, it will be
yet another discovery of some incredible New Zealand sights.