Thames was the first town up along the west coast of the Coromandel Peninsula. There was a small street market going on in town and locals were selling all types of home made products. It was good that the shops had veranda’s because it was raining most of the time. Jamaliah managed to buy some meat pies, which she loves. Rudy waited till we got to Coromandel town for a meal of fried battered mussels and chips (Jamaliah had a panfull of curry mussels). The road is nice and winds along the cliffs and bays of the peninsula. Pity it was raining most of the time so we could not enjoy the views as much. We drove all along the coast till the tarmac stopped. The first bit of gravel road to the first camping (5 km) was OK but the camping was more a caravan park where you could also park the camper. Some 25 km further up there is a DOC campsite called “Fantail Bay” which had a good description in the travel guide so we drove on. The rain had stopped and the sun started to come out. The road winds past and under large Pohutukawa trees. The campsite is one of the nicest. On a slope covered with large trees were several flat area’s for campers. The camp host (! first time) came out to welcome us and advised us where to stand. Due to the rain some of the grass fields were slippery. In the evening one of the regular campers went around and invited all to sit around their camper for a drink. Nice to get to know the other campers (149 km). The thunder storm arrived during the night. This time the wind was a lot less and it did not rain the whole night.
The next day the sun was out and the sea calm. We drove further up the coast over a narrow gravel road which climbed up a hill to reveal the beautiful Port Jackson Bay at the top of the Coromandel peninsula.
We spend some time on the beach and then drove back to Coromandel town and turned in at 309 Road, a gravel road, to cross over to the other side of the peninsula. On the way we made a stop at a lovely Kauri grove. Rudy recognised it as being the same one he visited in 1988.
Once on the East coast we drove to Cathedral cove. It was still an up and down walk over the cliffs for 45 min. (one way) to reach the arch. For the night we booked into our first Top 10 Holliday park at Hot water beach. Low tide is only at 13:40 tomorrow so we most likely will not be sitting in the hot sand.
We sat at the beach till 11:45. The sun was shining so it was a pleasant wait till the tide was low enough for the hot water. At the campsite they had however told us that the spring only is uncovered at the low tide point.
This was a bit too long to wait so we started our journey south again. There was not much left on the program so we wondered through the beach towns and had lunch at Whangamata beach and stopped for the evening at Waihi beach. We drove all the way to the end of the split and to our surprise there was a freedom campsite. Our first, and last since it is our last night in the camper. Already across the bay we can see Mnt Maunganui. Jamaliah went through the fridge and found salami and cheese as well as beer and Cola so we celebrated our successful camping trip in style!!
The next day it was only a short drive to Mnt Maunganui to return the camper to Hank and Gemma. We took the opportunity to stop in Tauranga to visit the nature picture exhibition in the city museum. These worldwide selected winning pictures were very impressive and gives you lots of ideas. To have the patience and vision to make them is a challenge. We had a lovely meal and spent the night at our hosts and the next day they dropped us off in Auckland. The table talk was of course about our adventures in New Zealand and their up and coming trip to Europe.