Coromandel

The Coromandel is the popular peninsular and beach holiday area, just 60 miles from Auckland. Wildly popular during the holiday period, it had been recommended that we not visit it in the Christmas holidays on our travels S. On the basis everyone was back to work and school by the start of Feb, it seemed to make perfect sense to make it our last stop before we returned to Auckland.

We found a campsite which sounded rather interesting. A pool, close to a couple of towns with shops and a butterfly farm? We had to look. We had also made arrangements to met back up with the Belgium family who had taken a house somewhere on the W coast.

The campsite was a good one. A bit run down in places but the pool was good and the butterfly farm doubled up as a green house for exotic plants and flowers. You were supposed to pay each time you entered but Hannah didn’t read the script, made friends with the man who ran it and was constantly in and out of it. Eleanor took these photos.

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One of the great attractions of the Coromandel is Hot Water Beach. With hot springs bubbling up from under the sand, it allows you to dig your own pool and wallow in superheated water. Having borrowed spades from the campsite, it was about an hour drive across the peninsula. We stopped on the way and found an excellent dive shop where Eleanor equipped herself with a underwater noise maker and we all ate a good size lunch of fish and chips.

We arrived at the end of the road and walked the 500m out across the sand to where we joined a couple of hundred others digging out pools at low tide to wallow in. It didn’t take long to dig something impressive out. Along the beach over the length of maybe 200m, the water came out as simply steam (scalding) to where we dug our pit, somewhere in the 45-50C range. There were places in our wee pool where you simply couldn’t put your feet but it was fun once you learnt to to regulate the heat.  Running into the sea was as good as a cold plunge after a sauna and was wonderfully invigorating after the sulphurous smelling hot pool.

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For our trip across, we had picked up a guest, Caroline, a French dentist on an extended cycling tour of NZ staying at our campsite. She was a bit stuck as her bike had been stolen a couple of days before but it had been thankfully dumped and found quickly by a local with nothing stolen from it. The only issue was a broken derailleur whose replacement needed to come from Christchurch. We took pity on her and she came across to enjoy a day not being stuck in camp. NZ justice being as it was, the local cops had caught the thief within a day and to mitigate for the crime and save everyone’s time, got the thief to pay for the damage. She got her bike back, fully fixed the day we left for Auckland.

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As an interlude and final stop off before we headed back to the city, the Coromandel was a good choice. I’m not sure if it would be that great with the crowds there but in the off season, it suited us pretty well.

Lou phoned Kharen, the lady of our last workaway to see if we could arrive a day early to Auckland as the rain that had dogged us all the way back up the N island had caught up with us again. We packed a wet tent in the back of the car and drove a little less than two hours to Auckland.

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