So the only thing that I knew about the Coromandel Peninsula before we arrived was that it was a coveted vacation spot for people entering radio contests. Three different radio stations had offered a weekend away in the Coromandel, and we weren’t even listening to the radio very often. I guess it does have an exotic air to the name, but it is probably just because of its proximity to Auckland and the number of beaches with insanely turquoise water.
I had offered to drive because Christian had been driving most of the time so far without complaint and I felt bad. Just my luck that it was the worse possible day to be behind the wheel: the roads around the peninsula were narrow, winding, and although the views were beautiful, my heart was constantly lurching any time there was oncoming traffic. Kiwis don’t seem to understand slowing down when the roads are sketchy, but I staunchly ignored them and went a nice safe 20-30 km/hour as I tried to navigate the van and avoid it toppling down a cliff.
We made it without a scratch to the town of Coromandel at the northern edge of the peninsula and treated ourselves to our first lunch out (of the van): fish and chips, of course, and learned that the Kiwi way to eat fish and chips is with your hands and a couple of “sevvies” (serviettes). Asking for forks is frowned upon it seems.
Christian takes over driving and the roads get a little easier. The northernmost tip of the point is inaccessible by car but we climb up and up to a spectacular viewpoint of the surrounding lands and ocean.
We don’t stop much other than for a quick toilet break because we have to make it to Hot Water Beach by low tide (otherwise there would be no hot water left). We rock up to the busiest spot we’ve seen since Auckland and there are tourists everywhere. Not really sure what we are getting ourselves into, we get our swimsuits on, rifle around a while for the shovel we’ve been carrying since Canada (shout out to Anton van Walraven for knowing it would come in handy at some point!) and hit the beach:
After a serious rinse-off because sand is everywhere now, we hit the road again, once again in a bit of rush because Cathedral Cove is our next stop and there are apparently only 6 overnight camping spots. We head up to the top of a cliff on some more narrow roads to the trailhead and viewpoint and we can’t believe our luck: there is one spot left!
We park, make a little video about our camper van set up, and eat egg salad sandwiches and chips for dinner. We have decided to the proper hike to Cathedral Cove in the morning, but head down to another beach for an evening stroll, just as the sun sets.
After some photos and sand art, we climb back up to our spot as the sun sets on another packed day in New Zealand!
Musician, teacher, traveller. Currently on a year-long journey around the world. Bronwyn is one of the founders of onlyamazingdays.com.