18-22 January: More shades of green and blue in New Zealand

Author: Mrs A

Location: Omokoroa and Coromandel, New Zealand

Friday: It was another fine day in New Zealand, I’m sure you’re tired of hearing. Blue skies over Omokoroa prompted Mr A and I to pull out the walking shoes and head off on another hike. We drove just 10km up the coast to Aongatete and set off on another walk in the lower Kaimai Range. The cloud hung down over the peaks but did not rain.

Heading up hill to commence our hike…no gentle warm up for the legs on this walk!
Lush forest with a path cris-crossed by tree roots
A little fan-tail keeps us company as we walk

We saw a lady with her two young children who were doing a shorter hike, but otherwise no other people as we walked the circuit. I relished my open airway and good breathing as we hiked up and down some relatively steep valleys, crossing a couple of streams as we went.

Other than slipping on a green rock and getting a wet foot, there were no mishaps, and we were reminded once again the contrast with similar hikes in Australia – no ticks, leeches or snakes here.

Mark stops a moment to enjoy the sounds of the forest and breathe in the clean air…
The stream which captured my foot…I forgave it since it’s so pretty…

It’s almost like a stairway of tree roots, guiding the way…very Lord of the Rings…
What goes up must also climb down…

Saturday & Sunday: With one more week left here in New Zealand I decided to paint a couple of artworks for dad and Sue as a thank you for their hospitality. Over the weekend I clocked up about 8 hours of painting – it was good to get back working on paper!

Four hours into my painting… more to go…will post the finished item on the Arty-Cat page…

Saturday night dad and Sue hosted neighbours Den and Angie for dinner – delicious mussels and prawns with a couple of tasty sauces. Much laughter ensued as we had an enjoyable evening with a few bottles of wine under a starlit sky.

Sunday morning started with rain and a low rainbow over the golf course…

Mark and I strolled down to the beach on Sunday afternoon at low tide, feeling wistful at the fact we only have a few more days left to enjoy this very special location. The sand flats were covered with birds; herons, black swans, Canada geese and oyster catchers mingled with godwits, gulls and stilts. We were the only people down there as we sat and enjoyed the peace and quiet from the white sand.

A flock of godwits in formation…
Variable and pied oyster catchers…these used to be shot for food in the 1800s and early 1900s
A white-faced heron glides past on its way to a new pool of snacks
Easily spooked, the black swans show off their white wing tips as they fly off to less disturbed waters

Monday morning began nice and early, with workmen arriving to commence repaving the back patio. Mark and I packed up the car with some clothes and our camping gear and headed off a couple of hours up the coast to the Coromandel peninsular.

It’s a lovely drive up, with the Coromandel mountain range on our left, and fleeting turquoise water views alongside the forest and valleys to our right. The road is very windy and popular with motorcyclists, but less so with me and my weak stomach. I was relieved when the winding ceased and my travel sickness abated.

We set up camp at Hot Water Beach, stopping in the garden beside an orchard of an old house near the beach. It wasn’t a fancy location by any stretch of the imagination, but it was peaceful and the ground was flat.

A New Zealand wood pigeon looks down on us

The owner of the location came down to see us, showing us the resident eels living in the stream behind our camp. “Keep your toes away from the edge, they’ll attach onto one and suck off all the flesh, leaving a bone.” Ugh!

One of several eels in the stream…this one was just a baby…

I revisited my foot slipping into the stream a couple of days ago with a new perspective! Maybe there are things in New Zealand that can hurt you after all!

We stuck to the beach instead, doing a lovely long walk along the coast. What we didn’t do was dig a hole in the sand and sit in it, like so many other visitors. Hot Water Beach is named for the hot springs which rise in the sand, accessible by shovel. The springs only appear in about a 50 metre wide stretch of the beach, and it is here that people sit in wet holes, cheek by jowl admiring the incoming tide. We very briefly considered doing this, before returning our shovel and exploring the quieter parts of the beach instead, no tourists around.

Horror of horrors – the crowds in the warm water area of the beach…
The serenity at the other end of the beach…the off shore wind creating beautiful waves
A heron battling the strong wind
A pair of southern black-backed gulls stand over their lunch…good to see gulls hunting for their own food and not picking through bins…

Tuesday – after a slightly disturbed sleep (very strong winds) we arose and drove a short way up the coast to Hahei. A very pretty settlement, this is the gateway to the famous Cathedral Cove. Accessible only by foot or boat, this is on everyone’s ‘must visit’ lists for the Coromandel.

Mr A prepares hot cross buns for breakfast…it must be nearly Easter….?!

Mr A and I have been there at least twice in the past, loving its picturesque gentle turquoise waters dotted with rocks and islands and white sand beaches. We parked up on the seafront at Hahei and took the coastal walk along.

Things have changed somewhat in the five years since we last came this way. Firstly, there is a water taxi that loads up people for $15 a head and whizzes them along the coast, meaning there are many more families with young children at the cove. Secondly, the pathway that follows the coast has now been surfaced, making it more of a footpath than a bush walk.

We hiked our way along, passing many people approaching and coming back from the beach, finding them differing from the usual hikers we come across. When you see someone on a bush walk, 99% of the time they will look at you, smile and say hello as you pass. Here, people avoid eye contact and rarely have a smile. If they are under the age of 30 then they will fill the path three abreast and scowl if they have to step aside to allow you to squeeze past single file. Very different souls indeed!

Mr A heads off from Hahai along the coastal walk…blessed with spectacular views
Looking back to Hahai beach from the first headland
The official start of the walk to Cathedral Cove…(do Helen, Stu, Simon, dad or Sue recognise this?)
Spectacular views…we were sad it was too windy to pack raft along here…

Of course the beach and cove was beautiful, but with many visitors. I jumped in for a refreshing dip (fulfilling a promise to my sister that I would do – brr! Helen I hope you appreciate my sacrifice) but Mark got no deeper than his ankles.

The cathedral like archway that gives the cove its name
Don’t look too closely…shivering as I enter the water…
Floating with toes up, in memory of Granddad Ernest…
Warming up on the sand before we head off…

After half an hour we headed back, calling in to Stingray Bay on our way around. In contrast to Cathedral Cove, there was hardly anyone here, but it was equally spectacular. I wish I had saved my swim for the turquoise waters here instead. True to its name, we watched stingrays whizz around the water’s edge catching lunch, and a couple of feral goats munching on some trees on the side of the bay. If you visit these parts, I suggest you plan to spend most of your time in the serenity of this beach rather than Cathedral Cove – total bliss.

A very healthy looking goat…
The serenity of Stingray Bay…
Now this is more like it – no water taxis here…
A single boat in the bay…
Yes, Mr & Mrs A approve….

We tore ourselves away and continued our return to Hahei and lunch – 8.5km having worked up a nice appetite!

An endangered New Zealand plover (also known as a dotterel), nicely disguised in the dunes on Hahei beach

I decided to fight the travel sickness and do the winding road driving on the way back to Omokoroa – a wise decision it turned out – I felt fine being in control!

Another lovely evening ensued with dad and Sue – a glass of wine on the patio followed by pork steaks, rice and vegetables. Delicious.

2 Replies to “18-22 January: More shades of green and blue in New Zealand”

  1. Love is great ? what a sacrifice you made ? I remember that winding road well! Driving or at least sitting in the passenger seat would have helped, but Elliot had a good laugh ? x

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