Day 5 (September 12, 2012)   Coromandel


Route for New Zealand's 2nd day
   This morning would be for visiting Coromandel, specially, Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove, which needs to do a treck to be reached. With spare time, we could add some of the short tracks in the area, listed on this voucher.

   The candidates are:

 6 green: Cathedral Cove
 10 green: Twin Kauri
 1 blue: Square Kauri

   At lunch time we would drive South to Matamata to join to the tour around Hobbiton, the set for the filming whether “The Lord of the rings” trilogy or the new “The Hobbit”.

   We must end this day in a Holyday Park of Tauranga as we need to be there early the next day.

   This day route would be 200 Km long we should cover in 2 hours 45 minutes.

   Expenses for this day are:

 Hobitton tour: 66 NZD


   We’re awake very early, around 4 AM. I always want to sleep more than 8 hours, but my body is at its own here.

   We spend time inside the motorhomes as it’s chilly outside, then the breakfast is prepared in one of them where we all meet. We all could hear the rain at night.

   Around 7 AM we’re ready to resume yesterday’s way and when we do it we can check vegetation around, hidden by the night yesterday, is magnificent. Out of the forest, the farms appear and the hobbits Shire, which capital we’re going to visit this afternoon, is out there.
Twin Kauri Reserve
   Landscapes are showing lots of sheep around populating the perfect greener hills until we reach the coast road, up to Coromandel peninsula, where the forest is hiding the sea views the most of the time. We stop at Twin Kauri as we were crazy about enjoying the beautiful nature we were seeing while driving. Kauri is a big new Zealand tree which wood is such good as per being used in the way now there are just a few of them, numbered, around the country.

Across the Shire

   Then we follow the coast motorway (25) until our yesterday’s destination: Hot Water Beach. This beach is special because a flow of hot water is under it and, at low tide, people can build their own hot water pool by digging a hole in the sand.

Hot Water BeachHot Water Beach

   It is beautiful and, as we’re short of time, instead of digging we parasitize the work of someone else. A nice German boy let us try in his hole and even offer him for making group pictures.

Hot Water Beach

   This place is amazing. This water burns and I would say you even need to put some fresh water on your hole to be ok.

Hot Water BeachHot Water Beach

   Next stop is in Hahei, where the car park for the Cathedral Cove track is located. The stunning views of the coast from the parking itself avoid us to go directly to the track. A sign marks 45 minutes walking to Cathedral Cove.

Coromandel coast viewsCathedral Cove Walk sign

   We follow the walk way between silver ferns until we meet a junction to some place called “Stingray Bay”. As is marked as 5 minutes we take this way. The sign is saying too still 30 minutes to our final goal.

   This walk gets difficult at the end, but we still manage to reach the lonely beach with colors, for the rocks and the water, we’ve never seen before.

Stingray BayStingray Bay

   When some of us get into the water find out the reason of the name: Stingray Bay, as the shore is full of these fishes. They’re surprisingly swimming in such a low - but incredibly transparent - waters, as people inside are barely getting their ankles wet.

Stingray Bay

   We don’t want to leave from such wonderful place, but when a French couple arrives, we let them enjoy here as we’ve just done, after some group pictures.

Sea views from Cathedral Cove trackStingray Bay

   We go back to the long walk and go on through it between wonderful forest and even more wonderful sea views until a stairs drive us steeply to the sand of the beach where we stand open-mouthed for a while.

Silver fern in CoromandelSilver fern in Coromandel

   On this paradise, we meet two women from Granada who tell us they’re ending their travel around New Zealand and explain how they didn’t like the massive and stressing activity of whale watching in Kaikoura, as our plan for tomorrow looks that good that they will join if don’t leaving already.

Cathedral CoveCathedral Cove

Cathedral Cove

   At the time of return back to our motorhomes, we walk the marked 45 minutes in a lot less than that and we take the road with the only goal of reaching Hobbiton. Well, there is another goal, and it is an urgent one: I’ve lost the debit card delivered to us by the bank yesterday, just a few hours later, and we need to get another one to going on with our plans.

   As banks close at 14:30h here, we stop in a city called Whitianga to the procedure. Before going into the bank a police officer comes to us to explain they’ve received complaints from drivers about us: we’re going too close one motorhome to the other and too slow and cars cannot pass us and must keep our speed behind us. The request is to spread the three vehicles in a way of cars can taking over us one by one. Now we understand the attitude of some drivers in our way: beeping, one hitting my campervan, one following us to insult and rebuke us over some kilometers,… Not bad for being one day in this country!

   Time flies and seems obvious we’re not going to reach Matamata on time to join the last tour to Hobbiton, so I call them while driving to there looking for chances and end hiring a private tour just for a little more money: 604$ for all the eight of us.

   We’re some minutes to 17:00h when we arrive and we still haven’t lunch since our toasts in our early breakfast, but our bodies are not really asking for more. Thanks to that we can go directly to the tour with an old man, which is going to be our guide. As it is a private tour we have no time limit, the visit will take as long as we want. Or sun want, better said.

   Man must stop the van, go out for opening the fence door, come back to the van to drive over the fence and go out again to closing the door three times over the farm before reaching the set.

Green Dragon

   The details of these Hobbit Holes make them magnificent and the set is really a whole city, a lot bigger than I expected. There is only one hole where is allowed to go in, but our guide let us do it on another one too, and even going beyond the fence of Bag End, Bilbo house, to pose for pictures with it. The only pity is white plastics have been set over the place to protect them to the frost in the forecast for tonight.

Entrance to Hobbiton used by GandalfHobbit hole in Hobbiton

Bag End in HobbitonViews from Bag End

   We pose too with the Sam bachelor house and Sam married house, recalling the image the trilogy ends with.

Hobbit hole in HobbitonHobbit holes in Hobbiton

   Finally it is indeed the sun that makes us leave the place and we end the day driving to Tauranga at dark. After some losing while looking for the Park, we end in Mount Manganui Beachside Holiday Park, just below the mount itself and in front of the beach. This city seems a touristic place, but we cannot find any restaurant or place opened and come back to the big kitchens of the park to make some dinner.

   Now we’re ready for the cruise tomorrow.