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 entertainment.
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.