Seeing you soon Coromandel (Day 4)!

Pitstop #1 – Cathedral Cove

A huge sea cavern through a headland linking two white-sand bays is the main attraction at the end of this popular 45 minute walk. Most parts of the track are well-formed and would weather, even rainy conditions. However, wearing anything other than flip-flops is advisable, as I ended up walking barefoot in the rain on the return journey back.

There are 3 short diversions available en route to Cathedral Cove. Puriri Grove Track is the first detour, a 10-minute walk through ancient puriri trees. The second is the steep track down to Gemstone Bay, a small, rocky cove. Sorry to disappoint but, there are no semi-precious stones lying on the beach waiting to be collected, despite the rather misleading name. But, there lies a very good snorkel trail here. The third is Stingray Bay. This small, enclosed sandy bay boasts clear water and interesting patterns on cliff caused by weathering. Stringrays could be spotted in the clear water hence the name.

At the end of the track lies Cathedral Cove – a perfect swimming/picnic spot!

 

 

 

 

 

Pitstop #2 – Waihi Beach

A little bit about Waihi before I go on. The main town in the area started life as a gold town and still remains pretty much a gold town today. It used to be one of the richest gold mines in the world. It’s interesting to note Waihi has managed to somehow retain its colonial character till today. Waihi Gold Mining Museum and Art Gallery and Martha mine (huge opencast gold mine) are easily the must see local attractions in Waihi.

Waihi Beach, a very popular holiday resort area, is about 12km from the town. It is popular with surfers and fishers.

Pitstop #3 – Karangahake Gorge 

Karangahake Gorge, 7km from Paeroa town, features a historic railway remaining in a stunning natural gorge setting. The walkway follows the railway line through the gorge and then opens alongside the Ohinemuri River. There are a couple of walks ranging from 45 minutes to about 4 hours that you can attempt. The Windows Walk is the most popular trail sadly it was closed when I visited for some maintenance works. Hope you have better luck! There are three large gold-processing batteries built in the area: Crown Hill, Talisman and Woodstock.

For more information: http://www.doc.govt.nz/Documents/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/waikato/karangahake-gorge-brochure.pdf

 

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

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Rest of Coromandel Peninsula (Day 3)!

Pitstop #1 – New Chums Beach

Whangapoua Beach, closest to the carpark

New Chums Beach was definitely my highlight of my entire Coromandel Peninsula travel! Hidden in the north-western end of Whangapoua Beach, New Chums Beach is arguably the best beach in the Peninsula boasting pinky/golden sand and crystal clear water, ideal for swimming.

From the carpark, the walk to New Chums Beach is about 30-45 mins. Rest assured, it is worthwhile. Crossing the stream (be careful if it’s high tide), you make your way along the shore on rocks (refer to photo on the right). After about 10 minutes of crossing rocks (and numerous balancing acts), you will move onto a rough track. It may be extremely muddy and slippery at times, so please exercise caution. Shortly after, you will descent to the beach and this is your view!

Kayaking from Whangapoua Beach is also an option to get to New Chums Beach. New Chums is a perfect spot to spend half a day or even a full day at. So, please go prepared with food, magazines, towel etc. Gregor and I were totally unprepared. After a 45 minute walk to get to this paradise, we had nothing on us except for our cameras and car keys. Damn! Am definitely revisiting New Chums Beach in the coming months I’m here in North Island.

Pitstop #2 – Opito Bay

Driving past Otama Beach will bring you to a rather secluded Opito Bay, which offers rather grand views of the many islands out from here. The sweeping expanse of Opito Bay makes the drive worth it. I spent the afternoon just lying on grass curled up with a good read.

Pitstop #3 – Hahei Beach

 

When at Hahei you have got to visit Madden’s for finger lickin’ good ice-cream and milkshakes!

I decided to spend the night at Hahei – Tatahi Lodge as Hot Water Beach was my last pitstop for Day 3. And, I was gonna begun the next morning heading to Cathedral Cove. There aren’t many backpacker options in Hahei as Whitianga (30 minute drive) is a bigger town. Dorm beds at Tatahi Lodge costed me NZD 32/night with an additional $5 for 24 hours of wifi usage.

Pitstop #4 – Hot Water Beach

At Hot Water Beach you can dig your own hot pool in the sand. That’s what the people in the photo are doing, not digging for gold. This very popular attraction in Coromandel gets its name from the springs that bubble into the sands of the beach, one of the few places in the world where this occurs. The springs are well below the high tide mark, so aim to be there within two hours either side of low tide. What’s next? Take a shovel (or not) and start digging!

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

Coromandel Peninsula adventures (Day 2)!

 

After a rather uncomfortable sleep in the backseat of Gregor’s car, we begun the day driving right from Thames, up North to Fletcher Bay, making a quick stop at Coromandel Town for some information from the visitor centre (i-site). Being a coastal drive, the views are pretty scenic and just past, Wilson Bay, the road turns inland and your view becomes that of sheeps and valleys.

 

 

Driving past North Coromandel (2 hours from Coromandel Town), Colville, is the last town that you be driving through before you begin driving on gravel road. Although the drive to Fletcher Bay is only 37km, allow 50 minutes (that’s how rough the road is). We had a nice picnic lunch at Fletcher Bay, dipped our feet in the waters and lounged on the grass. Perfect afternoon to rest my tired legs from the previous day’s hike.

For those looking to do some hiking, you could walk from Fletcher Bay to Stony Bay for some amazing coastal views. The hike is about 3.5 hours (1-way). If you are looking for a spot just before Fletcher Bay, Port Jackson would be a recommended camping spot! It’s definitely busier, but the stretch of white sand would make it feel like paradise nonetheless.

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I loved my stay at Lion’s Den Hostel at Coromandel Town for the night. It was a cozy environment, with ample garden and kitchen space. Friendly people managing the hostel to help you settle in. Dorm bed was NZD 27/night with additional $5 for 24 hours of wifi usage.

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

Coromandel Peninsula explored (Day 1)!

I just spent the past 4 days exploring the entire Coromandel Peninsula and I must say, it was definitely a good start to my NZ adventure! Driving over 500km through valleys, mountainous areas and along the picturesque coastline felt so surreal and gave me more than a glimpse of how vast New Zealand is.

Day 1 

We begun the day at above 9am from Auckland and drove right through to Thames (about 1.5 hours away) and onward to Kauaeranga Valley Road to get some information from the visitor centre on the different hikes available through Coromandel Forest Park. The most popular hike is the Kauaeranga Kauri Trail, also known as The Pinnacles Hike. But, please be warned, it’s a full day hike (7-8 hours return). For those who want to break this hike up, you can opt to put up at the Pinnacles Hut for a night before starting your descent. Accommodation is very basic (dorm bed) for $15/adult. Advisable to book in advance as it might get full during the summer months.

All smiles with Gregor, my company through Coromandel.

From the visitor centre, the Trestle View carpark (starting point of the hike) is a 20-minute drive through gravel road.

Note: The small store at the visitor centre is also the last stop for food/drinks. So if you’re looking to buy supplies for lunch/dinner, please stop by Pak & Save at Thames before driving down towards the forest park. And also, beyond Thames you won’t have mobile reception at all.

The picture on the left is the start of the Rock Staircase. The toughest section of the hike. The only way to get by is to go slow and keep going. After over 2 hours of trekking, we finally got to Pinnacles Hut and stopped by for a quick lunch before continuing on the Pinnacles. From the huts, the peak is about an hour away. Your path is over 200 steps and rocky boulders to cross.

View from The Pinnacles, elevation of about 770m.

On the descent down from the Pinnacles, you will arrive at a spot called Hydro Camp. There are 2 routes to exit. A 2-hour (via Billygoat Landing) and a 3-hour hike back. Be careful not to be stuck on the longer route back, if like me, your legs have already started crying.

If you are not staying the night at the Pinnacles Hut or camping, the nearest town for a hostel would be Thames. 2 backpacker options you could consider, Sunkist Backpackers (not the friendliest place) and Gateway Backpackers. I arrived back at Thames beyond 8pm and either reception was closed or rooms were full. I ended up sleeping in the car under the stars, without a shower. If you are not prepared for that, I suggest booking a room in advance.

Things to note/bring along for this hike:

1. Comfortable training shoes/hiking boots

2. Sunblock

3. At least 3-4 litres of water. It is a lot of weight to carry on, but, trust me you will need this. Otherwise, like me, you will end up filling up your bottle in a running stream. There are NO water points at all beyond the visitor centre.

4. Light food i.e. sandwhiches

5. Good spirits, otherwise, good company 😉

Have fun climbing guys!

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.