So here we are on the North Island again and on the whole, the weather from Marlborough seems to have come with us (touch wood.)
Since arriving in Wellington last week, we’ve travelled up to Martinborough for some excellent wine and a not so excellent hangover, then over to the Whanganui National Park, where we took a jet boat up the river and then canoed back down it. We debated doing the full 3-5 day river trip but decided for our own sanity to just do 1 day- we learnt long ago we don’t do well in a kayak or canoe together. It was stunningly beatufiul on the river and the weather was perfect. From here, we hiked the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, described to us as one of the best day hikes in the world. Now, there was no denying it was amazing in terms of different terrains and a mixture of challenging ascents and descents, but I think we’ve been spoilt with some of the other walks we’ve done- both of us agreed it wasn’t our favourite hike but we’re glad to have done it.
The next day, we drove upto Raglan on the west coast- a really cool surfing town full of arty craft shops and many many surfers. The weather was fairly terrible so we couldn’t really do too much however I did manage to buy new clothes (result for me, but not for Sam’s carefully crafted budget!) My three tops had basically given up and I was in desperate need of new ones. After trying (and failing) to find the surf beaches, we gave up and drove towards a teeny tiny town called Te Aroha, over towards the Coromandel Peninsula. We stumbled upon a tramways walk and Sam suddenly perked up, despite telling me a couple of days earlier that he was “done with walking. If you want to walk, that’s fine, I’ll see you at the bottom.” He was in his element here- everytime we saw an info sign, he was all over it. For me, it was like being in a museum only much worse because there were buzzy things buzzing all around me. Not my kind of walk at all. Sam said he wished he could have swapped me with Dad for this. Would have suited me just fine.
After a week or so in some ok-but-not-too-great campsites, we really wanted somewhere with good facilities and so we found a new Top 10, fancy pants holiday park right next to Hot Water Beach in the Coromandel. This place is so amazing it even has a fish and chip shop on site, with nice big grassy bays to park in, great showers and decent OVENS (something of a rarity in campsites.)Yes, it’s fairly pricey compared to others we’ve stayed in but it’s so worth it. Hot Water Beach is really unusual because there is geothermal activity that heats the water under the sand and so you can create your own hot pools. You can only access this part of the beach around low tide- when we went down last night it was like Blackpool beach on the first day of summer. No thanks. So this morning we woke up at 5.45am to go down to the beach (excellent idea, only 10 other people there) and dig- with some success. In some parts the water was boiling which made it hard stand on, but in others you had to dig really far down (well Sam did) to find it. We banded together with another 4/5 people to create a massive hot pool- was good until a massive wave came in and ruined everything.
Since we were already up, we then decided to head out early to Cathedral Cove and see why everyone we know from NZ had recommended it. These photos might give you an indication:
The beaches were pristine and the water was so clear. Unfortunately we left all of our swim stuff and towels drying on our washing line, otherwise we could’ve spent the whole day there. We wanted to Kayak to the cove but the swell was too big and all the trips have been called off so we might come back and do it next week.
We’re planning to spend most of the next week in this area- there’s quite a lot to do and if the weather holds out we fancy some decent beach time to work on the Fiji base tan. 2 weeks left- where’d the time go?!