After leaving Mt. Maunganui we headed to the Coromandel Peninsula, and there we were inspired. We have figured out our first long-weekend excursion itinerary from Auckland and it is up for grabs to our first visitor.
Visit us here in NZ and you’ll be entitled to a beautiful coastal drive from Auckland along the coast of the Firth of Thames. We’ll grab a beach bach for the weekend in one of the Coromandel’s countless cute beach towns…Whangapoua, with its lone general store, or if you’re up for more activity, we can try Whitianga or Coromandel town. We’ll drive the rocky 309 Road to meet farmer Stuart and his pigs, hike to the top of Castle Rock, or take a dip in the pool at Waiau Falls. We can even stop for lunch and visit the gang of cattle at the Coromandel Mussel Kitchen, with outdoor seating, a solid NZ wine and beer selection and lots of mussel dishes. We can pick up fresh Coromandel oysters for dinner apps at the Coromandel Oyster Company, go for a walk in an abandoned gold mine, and marvel at huge ancient kauris in the forest.
We’ll make sure you don’t miss Hot Water Beach, the Coromandel’s claim to fame, where searing hot water bubbles through the sand at low tide, and people flock to the beach with shovels to dig temporary hot tubs and engineer little heat rivers so their pool reaches that perfect temperature. I was so impressed by how hot the water was that I even tried to cook a mussel in it. It didn’t really work, but I did manage to scald a foot in the process. We can grab a shake at the beach shack and do lunch up the road at Hot Waves Cafe, then we can make our way over to Cathedral Cove before sunset and hike down to its breathtaking beach.
What’s even more breathtaking is New Chums Beach, the subject of much debate and outrage these days because some boneheads decided to approve building a block of houses there. The beach has to be one of New Zealand’s most stunning and untouched. At present, no roads lead there, so you have to hike from Whangapoua Beach by crossing a stream, then clambering over some rocks to a trail that leads over a hill through some bush. When the bush opens up, you are met with a pristine beach nestled into a cove and flanked by cliffs on all sides. It looks like something you’d find in the Marquesas. Because it’s hard to get to, the crowds are thin, and you can set up for a whole day of sunbathing and picnicking free of the crowds, in communion with one of nature’s best seashores. There are islands in the distance, and you can hear the tuis in the trees amidst the sound of the softly crashing waves. New Chums is endangered at the moment, and I’m hoping that the combination of pressure from locals, tourists like me and celebrities like the Amazing Race’s Phil Keoghan, who owns a house in a nearby town, will successfully overturn the council’s approval to develop the area. I would ruin it forever. With a road and houses, New Chums would become just any regular NZ beach.
If that’s not enough for you, we can dive the marine reserve or hire a boat (that’s “rent” to you Americans), go horse trekking at some of NZ’s most economical trekking ranches, or taste some kiwifruit wine down toward the southwest end of the peninsula.
Ready yet? He or she who books the ticket first gets the weekend. Jason and I have bets on who’s in first. Miss you guys!
Lara & Jason