The next morning, we checked out of our hotel and headed for the Coromandel Peninsula. I had actually never been, but had always wanted to go. I’d heard so many amazing things- the sandy beaches, beautiful uninhabited islands, and the climate. What I hadn’t been told about was the amount of beautiful, almost rainforest trees on the way. It was extremely tropical, Nick likened the area to Hawaii.
It took about two hours for us to get to our first stop. The drive wasn’t bad, it was a Sunday and people seemed to be heading back to Auckland from the Coromandel rather than to it. I should note that there are no tolls in New Zealand- well there is one, but it’s north of Auckland and I believe it only costs something like $3. The only thing to be aware of is that the price of petrol is extremely expensive – something like $2.20 a litre and getting to the Coromandel and back cost us around $70 in a tiny Toyota Yaris just in petrol!
We weaved our way through the Coromandel, eventually arriving at Hahei (the town that Cathedral Cove is near). We stopped as it was around lunchtime, and we found a cute little dairy (convenience store) that had a fish n chip shop attached to it. Well we couldn’t turn that down, so that was the first lot of fish n chips that we had in New Zealand! It was pretty good and attracted a decent crowd of people in their swimsuits wanting some yummy salty fish during a beach break. Anything goes in towns like this, but it’s pretty rare to see a man wearing anything other than bare feet or jandals (flip flops).
Off we drove to the car park for Cathedral Cove. It’s about an hour’s walk down a steep path, so we tried to get a park close, since that means it is an hour’s walk back up! Unfortunately, everyone had the same idea to head to the beach on such a nice day. We couldn’t find a park anywhere near the walking route, nor down any of the streets, so we left to head to another beach that wasn’t quite so hard to get to. Low and behold, there was a guy there who is super smart and set up transfers to Cathedral Cove. We felt super lazy, but we ended up just having the boat take us and put us straight on the beach – no walk involved and no stress of parking! I think it was around $20 for the return tickets, so a bit steep, but we’d already driven all the way there so it would have been extremely disappointing to miss out on the beach.
To say it was beautiful is an understatement. The area is stunning, and I still am amazed at how much variety there is in New Zealand when it comes to scenery. The Coromandel is a strange mix of Hawaii and Australia, whereas the Alps could be out of Austria. The temperature was just absolutely perfect for a beach day, even though we had to keep covered up because of the previous day of burns (doh). I did forget just how strong the sun is in NZ – the burn time is extremely low due to the absence of a protective ozone layer over the country.
The tide was rising, so when we went through the cave to the other side of the cove, it was almost too high of a tide to get back through the cave! It would have been hilarious to end up with an impromptu swim.
We sat down and relaxed after taking photos and just took in the atmosphere. It was a nice mix of tourists and locals, and everyone was enjoying their time just chilling out and enjoying life. If only we could have swam! Next time.
The transfer boat arrived, so we decided to hop on it and get back in the car to do some more exploring. We ended up at the Hot Water Beach – which apparently has thermal springs under the sand. If you dig, then you can have your own little hot spring, which many people had managed to find. Unfortunately we turned up spade-less, so we didn’t get to discover the hot pools. Apparently temperatures can be as high as 60 degrees Celsius – that would be some third degree burns.
As we walked back to the car, what looked to be an impressive electrical storm rolled in. We rushed back to the car, but not before noticing a topless sunbather. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen one in New Zealand. Must have been German. Haha! As quickly as it rolled in, it rolled out to sea while we were driving back. As it turned out, we hit some pretty bad Sunday traffic and ended up eating a bag of Twisties in the car (New Zealanders will appreciate). I love those things!
That night we stayed at a Budget Ibis hotel at the airport as we had to drop the car off the next day. It was pretty average; we had to have a laugh about it. The bed was on rollers and Nick was having fun rolling it around the miniscule sized room that had 2 towels and a cheap television and that was about it. We had dinner at Carls Jnrs that was by the airport. It was kind of funny that we could have that in New Zealand, but it isn’t even in Germany, so we had to treat ourselves (and this is how we ended up 4kg each after New Zealand).
The next morning we were on our way to Christchurch, but not before running into my friend Aimee at the airport. What are the odds? I guess pretty high in NZ, I was recognising a decent amount of people! The flight to Christchurch is about an hour. I was so excited to see my parents and head back to my hometown. Christchurch will be covered in the next blog.