When I sat down to reflect on the road trip along New Zealand’s Coromandel coast, there weren’t many pix and notes to rely on. It was months ago and everything was so wonderful I decided to go spontaneous and just live in the moment. So G had to feed me with details of our journey and shared his photos…
G picked me up from the school campus on a beautiful Friday afternoon and off we headed to Thames, a rural town at the southwestern end of the Coromandel Peninsula. It was supposed to be a two-hour drive from Auckland, but the rush hour and multiple construction works along the way slowed us down. We reached the town at twilight and crossed the tiny branch of Kauaeranga river to check ourselves in a private, secluded and home-like lodge just off the highway. It was a great base to explore the Coromandel peninsula. The receptionist was a Kiwi middle-aged man who seemed genuinely love chatting with guests and sharing his little pieces of advice. We settled in a clean and spacious room with modern decor and lovely floral crockery in the kitchen.
Road tripping the North Islands in the autumn, we were blessed with cool and sunny days although it would briefly drizzle sometimes. On Saturday, we took a scenic route past the Coromandel forest park to visit the east coast and stopped by the picturesque Tairua suburb. It was just an ordinary morning in a low-season holiday town. After stocking up on food and water for the whole day out, we strolled around and quietly observe life. Some paddling enthusiasts were enjoying time in the tranquility of a flowing river. Everything seemed to be moving at a slow pace.
From Tairua we headed northeast to the Hot Water Beach, a scenic attraction that no visitor to this beautiful peninsula could ever forgo. Imagine this. You lay down on the sandy beach, sun-bathing and breathing in the ocean breeze. Then the tide goes down. You create a little hole out of sand right below your feet and whoops, you have your own hot tub in the open!
There is a reservoir of superheated water underneath the sand, formed by a volcanic activity that occurred 9 million years ago. The water travels more than two kilometers to hit the surface and gradually cool off to 64 °C (147 °F) which is perfectly safe for bathing. However, this hot spring is only ‘accessible’ two hours before and after the low tides. It’s hidden under the water the whole time and only exposed when the tides go down. Most people would come here by car and bring along a shovel to dig up their ‘spa’ pools. Earlier that day I noticed some shops in Tairua sold plastic shovels for $15, but it didn’t occur to me that we would need one. So we had a little exercise to do: making our well with hands, which was a nice experience itself especially when we could feel hot and cold springs at the same time!
The rest of our trip was mostly about driving around for sightseeing. Some parts of the coastal drive was zig-zag and narrow but I remember G said they helped keeping him awake. We missed out on Cathedral Cove, arguably one of the most picturesque spots in the peninsula, but that also means we have a reason to come back.