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The Coromandel to Rotorua
Awoke this morning at the Hot Water Beach Top Ten to the sound of rain.
Don't dare look at the weather map but it seems to be a non-ending situation not only continuing but increasing. So a good hot breakfast and a wave goodbye we were off to the south early hoping for the sun to appear. Down south again but cutting across the peninsula after Tirua and taking the twisting road up into the mountains across and stopping at a place that would be almost totally unknown to anyone that didn't have a chance to explore New Zealand as I have over the years. I have found some real gems off the beaten path and this is one of them. I have actually stayed here many times far removed from the world where protected shore birds are granted a very large expanse of white sand beach to try to gain back their population.
After driving slowly down off the mountain and the valley leveling off just by the large stand of redwood trees I stopped. They are not even marked. Unless you knew you would drive right on by. We took a walk into the forest alive with bird sound even in the rain. I always feel the natural strength of this massive redwood forest as you quietly enter and stand in awe. From there I took the next side road toward the ocean and through the small village of Opoutere with less than fifty houses and almost all of them only occupied the summer months and an occasional weekend through the year. Not a dozen people actually live here full time.
One of New Zealand's great losses was the accidental death of one of Opoutere's residents the writer/historian Michael King who wrote, as far as most people are concerned, “the best general history of New Zealand to be published in a generation,” (quote of Kerry Howe, NZ Herald). And I truly agree. Ask your library for: “The Penguin History of New Zealand”. You won't find a better rersearched book anywhere.
So on through Opoutere slowly and as the road gained more turns with the sides closing in from overhanging trees we cruised by the estuary to finally come around a bend and find the area set aside for visitors to park. It is maintained by the Conservation Department and provides a toilet. Parking we walked the short distance through the coastal belt of land protected from development. Slowly as you walk up the sandy tree covered path you can hear and smell the ocean then all of a sudden it is before you. Walking along I can guarantee you small birds named fantails will buzz you and stop to see if you will talk to them. Stepping out onto the five kilometre beach you will probably be the only ones there. Even in the summer holiday season the long stretch of beach will be almost deserted and the rest of the year I have been down here dozens of times and never ever spotted a soul. I have wandered down the beach sharing space only with the rare
New Zealand dotterel and the Variable Oystercatcher.
Just a few hundred yards further along from this parking area is a small but well done camp ground the Opoutere Coastal Camping where you can bring your camper van and stay awhile. It is now closed today out of season so we will move on but I just had to share this very remote and wonderful area. If you go there be good to it. It would be a shame to spoil such a wonderful natural area.
Now back out onto the road and a left. Next stop is the surfing capital of Whangamata. You can find most everything you may want here as it is the very hub of this part of the Coromandel. Heading on south and off the Peninsula through the scenic countryside we reach Waihi aptly described as New Zealand's heart of gold. This is only a 1 ½ hour drive from Hot Water Beach. It is a community that has a 100 year old heritage of gold mining.
Still raining we didn't get the chance to stop and take the tour of the gigantic open pit mine – Martha's Gold Mine.
We drove on through town and soon were in the Karangahake Gorge one of the most scenic drives in the country but usually missed.
This route comes out at Paeroa, (world famous in New Zealand) for the L&P drink and its antique shops. Be sure to stop for a photo of the giant L&P bottle in the centre of town.
Now it is south to route 26 and Te Ahora, the spa town with lots of beautiful walks, then we were off to route 27 to route 5 ( or pay attention to your GPS) and on to the city of Rotorua and an exciting couple of days.............David and I went through town after stopping at the Zorb Park to let them know when (not if) it finally stopped raining tomorrow we would be back to get some photographs and videos of David zorbing down the hill................that should be fun..........
I drove south to my favourite camp ground in Rotorua – the Rotorua Thermal Park . Had a quick chat at the desk recorded for the Rotorua video and said yes to the fact that Shelley would soon star with Brad Pitt............(yeah right!!). Great lady and always full of smiles same as Morgan who was working with her. When you stay here they will be most helpful directing you to whatever interests you.
So we settled into our home away from home enjoying dinner and listened to the rain on the roof. Might go out and climb in the hot pool but then again it is wonderfully comfortable in here.....I am really getting to enjoy this camper van. Everything works perfectly and isn't a drama. What more can anyone ask when enjoying travelling New Zealand than total comfort and convenience.(to be continued)
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