We had promised ourselves we would get up for the sun rise at Cathedral Cove. The alarm was set for 5:55, the instant coffee granules laid out in their cups and the water was ready in the kettle to be boiled on the gas. In New Zealand, the birds start singing hours before sunrise so after a couple of scares that we have missed the moment, the alarm goes off and we blearily emerge from our sleeping bag cocoons to witness the light slowly brightening in the sky. Steaming coffee in hand, we join a couple wrapped in blankets and a lone photographer who has a great time lapse set up, inspiring us to get some footage of our own, as captured here:
Because it was a bit cloudy, the sun rise itself ended up being a tad anti-climatic (not the case if you get to watch it at super speed), but I do love being up that early in the morning and every time I manage it, I vow to try harder to be that kind of person. For now, I am just fuzzy headed and slitty eyed… Ah, one day.
We don’t go back to bed, but prepare a tasty muesli and yogurt feast, drink more coffee, repark the van so the tour buses have a spot to park, and are on the trail down to Cathedral Cove by 8am. The sun is not yet hot and the trails are empty, so we are pretty chuffed with ourselves. There are three beaches to check out but the furthest one is Cathedral Cove and they estimate it will take you about 45 minutes so we decide to head to that one first. We arrive with the beach almost barren and lots of time to take photos before the crowds arrive (surprisingly, there are crowds even though they have to hike that far to get there!)
The key hole through the rock is the coolest spot to get photos and we are in awe at the geological structures surrounding us:
We play around in there for a while and decide we have lots of time to just hang out on the beautiful fine sand in the sun before it gets too hot.
New Zealand sun: before it comes up and gets high enough in the sky, there’s still a chill in the air and I am always cold until I am too hot. As soon as the sun comes out, it is scorching and extremely easy to get a bad sun burn because the hole in the ozone is directly above us. So here I am at the beach in a merino long sleeve and leggings and the temperature is going up quick. The water is also this incredible shade of turqoise and as clear as glass.
It is really tempting, but there is still a bite in the air and we both stupidly forgot to put our bathing suits on before we set out (I suppose not expecting it would be at all warm enough to swim). I’ve already had a couple of moments at this point that I have regretted not jumping in the ocean, but the water temperature (somewhere between 13-18 degrees) has been so frigid on most days, I haven’t been able to muster the nerve. We sit on the beach deliberating for a while (I do – Christian hasn’t said he is interested one way or the other at this point) and then all of a sudden, Christian strips down to his underwear and runs in. I am impressed and figure I am now definitely going to regret not jumping in. So in my underwear also, I jump in. And guess what? No regerts.
We dry off in the now quite warm sunshine, change out of our underwear in the shade of the trees (the crowd of tourists on the beach is growing now) and head back to the camper van to finish off our Coromandel drive, and then on to Matamata, home of Hobbiton!!
Musician, teacher, traveller. Currently on a year-long journey around the world. Bronwyn is one of the founders of onlyamazingdays.com.