Kia ora! 

I believe I left you several days ago, with Jacqui and Freddie in the lovely beach town of Piha on the west coast of the North Island.  From there, I drove across the entirety of the country, all the way to the east coast town of Whitianga, on the Coromandel Peninsula.  It took less than 3 1/2  hours. 

As are all the roads I’ve experienced here, the route over to the Coromandel (other than a bit around Auckland), is two lane, twisty and hilly with single lane bridges, so coast to coast, it’s a pretty slim country given the time it took to cross.  I read a humorous observation recently on a NZ Travel FB page saying Cruise Control is wasted on cars in New Zealand because there is never a stretch of straight road long enough to make use of it and from what I’ve experienced thus far, I definitely concur. Driving in New Zealand requires continuous participation on the part of the driver, that’s for sure.

I arrived Whitianga the other day and was supposed to spend a handful of days there using it as a base from which to explore the Peninsula.  Not too long after arrival though, I realized that plan wasn’t really going to work anymore because I had since set my sights on the remote Coromandel Coastal Walk, way up at the northernmost point of the Peninsula, so adjust my sails I did.  I would stay two nights in Whitianga, two nights up north at the Tangiaro Kiwi Retreat with no cell or internet, and then back south again to Tairua, which is where I am presently before moving a short distance over to Mount Maunganui where I will wrap up my time on the Coromandel Peninsula. 

Get out your Google Maps and follow along, if you like.

I enjoyed such a lovely time in Whitianga, walking everywhere from my AirBnB.  I took the small passenger ferry over to Ferry Landing (5 minutes max) and walked past Flaxmill Bay, where the banner photo was taken, over the Shakespeare Cliffs and Lonely Bay where Captain Cook scrubbed his hull and on to Cooks Beach.

Lonely Bay in the foreground.  Cooks Beach beyond.

You can see the sand here is mostly limestone.  The erosion of the limestone in the banner photo is caused by wind induced chop and waves rather than tides, as you might think.  And, thanks to my Aussie friend who visits NZ often, I can see the beaches on the east coast are often golden sand from the limestone, while the beaches on the west coast are often black from volcanic basalt.

I about forgot to mention my stops at Hot Water Beach and Hahei on my way to Whitianga since they are so close and Hahei has a natural beauty “not to be missed”.  

Hot Water beach is known thus because if you take a shovel with you and dig yourself a spot in the sand, it will fill up with hot water.  You can then lie in it and have your own little beach hot tub.  No need to take your own spade as they are for hire just about everywhere.  At the time, the weather and my interest level were not conducive to a hot water beach soak, so I visited the Art Gallery and moved on to Hahei, just up the coast.  Jacqui from Piha has some of her weaving work there and I told her I’d go look…lovely gallery filled with the work of local artists.  

On up the coast maybe 10 minutes and I arrived at Hahei with plans to take the walk out to Cathedral Cove, a very well known and much photographed spot of natural beauty.  Let’s just say, I agree with it being a beautiful spot and I guess I am glad I went…maybe.  I mean, there are lots and lots of beautiful spots on this big earth that maybe aren’t so crowded.

My experience of Cathedral Cove was that of a tourist attraction with shuttles to and from a parking lot at the edge of town to the trailhead.  There were also multiple signs advertising boat rides for those who do not wish to or cannot make the 2.5km trek each way.   There were lots of people coming and going and I almost didn’t go due to catching just enough of a whiff of Disney World which almost turned me back.  I half expected someone selling T-shirts or photos with a parrot once I got there.  Perhaps I’m allowing my judgements to paint too bleak a scene, but you all know by now how much I dislike sharing nature with the masses.  

A view from the walk out to Cathedral Cove. Limestone cliffs dropping down into the Marine Reserve

Cathedral Cove.  At one time likely the most Instagrammable place on earth.  Who knows, but I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a young beauty in an evening gown having her photo  taken with skirts flowing in the waves.  By the way, I waited a while for this photo and still had to crop out about 8-10 people, but it turned out pretty well I think, given the number of folk around at the time and the number of boats coming in for a looksee.

Let me move on before my judgements get any worse.  Goodness!  If I’m not careful with my aversion to people, I’m going to become a hermit muttering to myself in some off grid yurt somewhere in the back of beyond!  It really wasn’t all that bad (I guess), but wait til you see the magnificent scenery from the Coromandel Coastal Walk which I was able to revel in in almost solitude.  

After leaving Whitianga, I drove the mostly gravel, twisty road up to the Tangiaro Kiwi Retreat, a lovely 800 acre private bush reserve where I had booked in for 2 nights.   There were short walking trails, a stream with swimming hole, and private hot tubs in the woods, aka, spas in the bush, in which twice I soaked.  

The reason I stayed here is because one, I wanted remote and two, it was the only place I could find available in close proximity to the Coromandel Coastal Walk as I was a bit nervous about walking 20k as well as driving and hour and a half each way to and from the trailhead from a town further afield.  Turns out it would have been fine to do that, but I didn’t know.

This walk is 10 km along the coast between Stony Bay and Fletcher Bay.  I jumped on the track (that’s what they call trails here) at Stony Bay yesterday morning, walked to Fletcher Bay, and returned via the same track.  

This was my first full bluebird day from start to finish.  I could not have asked for a more beautiful day to take such a beautiful walk.  I took way too many photos and videos along the way to post here, but I’ve included enough to well represent the day.  Take a look.

The first is a video from the Lookout about an hour into the walk from Stony Bay.  Cut and paste please.

https://youtube.com/shorts/hSdnBEopPYs

Awhile after the Lookout comes Poley Bay, pictured above and then comes the view below which was with me much of the rest of the way.  Please note the Great Barrier Island in the distance of each one.

Coming out of the bush and onto grazing land, looking back the way I came. 

And next is the little cove just prior to Fletcher Bay.  I must have sat here for an hour, soaking it all in and, except for about 100 newly shorn sheep, had it all to myself for almost all of the time.  I startled the two sheep in the photo as I came around a grassy bend where they, just moments before, had been sunning themselves.  A shy, but curious lot they all were.

My cup runneth over again and again.  And, believe it or not, the video widget seems to be working with this next video, so enjoy, though just in case it doesn’t come through on your end, here is the link to it on YouTube.

https://youtu.be/YwopbfF4n0I

It was an equally gorgeous return walk.  Not far from Stony Bay, I fell into step with a young German fella.  He had been camping there at Stony Bay, but had walked up the trail to a point where cell service reached his phone and was heading back down.  What a delightful young man.  We laughed and talked non stop until we parted ways at our cars. I love so many of the young people these days.

A 25 minute gravel road drive had me back at the Kiwi Retreat and not long after that, I found myself in a “spa in the bush” being visited by a bird called a, Fantail.  It was too quick to catch a photo, but here is the spa set amongst the New Zealand Silver Fern.

And today I drove from the far north Peninsula to Tairua for an overnight before Mount Maunganui, my final stop on the Coromandel Peninsula.  I’ll post on Facebook some of the photos I took along the way as there is always something of note to stop and see.

Hope everyone is doing well and, as always, thanks for following along.


A note about commenting, should you be so inclined, which I hope you will because I love hearing from folks following along!

If you type your name in the Name Box, your comments won’t show up as Anonymous and I’ll know it’s you.  Also, should you choose, you can fill in your email address in the provided box next to the Name box.  If you do this, you will get an email telling you I have replied to your comment and what I said.

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Comments:

  • Heather

    December 5, 2022

    Margie, the photos from your solitary walk are just beautiful! I think your aversion to crowds is healthy! LOVE following along!

    reply...
    • Margie

      December 6, 2022

      Hello Heather! Yes, it really was a particularly beautiful walk. LOVE having you following along!

      reply...
  • Cassie

    December 6, 2022

    Beautiful! Love your descriptions!

    reply...
    • Margie

      December 6, 2022

      Hi Cassie! Yes it is and thanks! So fun to have you along. 🙂

      reply...
  • Anonymous

    December 6, 2022

    We can’t have you becoming a hermit and muttering to yourself in an off grid yurt – we would miss your beautiful photos and stories of your amazing adventures! 🤣

    reply...
    • Wendy Cutting

      December 6, 2022

      Sorry – it posted before my name uploaded. 🤦‍♀️

      reply...
      • Margie

        December 6, 2022

        Hi Wendy, So glad you came back to say it was you! And btw, it’s looking more and more like I’m going to cut my time in the interior short (due to the expected heat), which will likely send me to the Sydney area sooner than I thought, which means, we may see each other after all! What fun!

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  • Tena

    December 28, 2022

    Every post is another adventure for me. The pictures are amazing, as always. I loved seeing the sheep! They reminded me a bit of your walk on the West Highland Way.

    reply...
  • Margie

    December 28, 2022

    Same here! Walking with the sheep here also reminds me of The West Highland Way.

    reply...

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