Had a lovely couple of nights at Waihi Beach where amongst other things it was great to catch up with another friend who whizzed over from Auckland for the day to meet us. Athenree Hot Springs and Holiday Park was home for our stay at Waihi Beach. Another well run outfit in a beautiful setting, a very short walk to the water.
Early start from Rawene to make our way down to Waihi Beach. We stopped off at a few places before breaking our journey for the night.
First up Kerikeri, Bay of Islands for an unscheduled detour to have a quick squiz and a snack at the historic Stone Store. Goods on sale not particularly authentic (aka bunch of old tat really), but the grounds were pretty (â€“ including river setting complete with a beautiful old Jacaranda tree), the coffee was good, and the date scones fortifyingâ€¦
â€¦ Haruru Falls was our next intended destination â€“ enjoyed a nice couple of hours communing by the water, and stretched our legs along a short section of the track which eventually finishes up at Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Following the (Waitangi) River through some good ole native New Zealand bushâ€¦ Got some nice photos of a very obliging Shag (as in bird) from the river bankâ€¦
â€¦ From the falls we passed through Paihia in search of fush and chups. No luck there as our intended lunch spot, Shippeyâ€™s restaurant was no more. We pressed on to Kawakawa in search of better luck. We were rewardedâ€¦ great fush n chups at the unassuming Stumpyâ€™s takeaway right by the petrol station and heritage railway station in town. Nicely washed down with some ice cream from over the road. Then checked out the quirky and colourful Hundertwasser public toilets built from recycled materials, and the railway station…
â€¦ From Kawakawa drove on to a stop at the beautiful Mangawhai Heads for a relaxing walk along the beach and a refreshment break.
Time was getting on so from Mangawhai Heads we hot wheeled it down to Orewa â€“ beautiful drive into town past a lovely looking camping ground (unfortunately not where we were staying) â€“ warrants more time on a future visit.
Home for the night was Pinewoods Motor Park â€“ which was perfectly ok for a functional overnight stop.
Rise and shine in the morning to continue on to Waihi Beachâ€¦
â€¦ Stopped off for a walk at Karangahake Gorgeâ€¦
â€¦ Then on to explore Waihi Beach town and head for the deserted beach itself for a nice long walk with aforementioned friend after settling into camp at Athenree.
… While in Waihi Beach we took a day trip up one side of Coramandel Peninsular to Cathedral Cove and down the other via Thames. Lovely hot day. Enjoyed the walk down to the Cove. Beach was seriously packed but there was still enough space for two little ones to while away the afternoon. The next door Hahei Beach is definitely on the agenda if we get a chance to return to the area.
Onward and up the peninsular, cutting across to Coramandel town via the 309 Road â€“ perhaps worth doing once in your life but a bit of a mission traversing this winding gravel road. A couple of interesting stops including a stand of Kauri trees if you have the will. By the time we reached them, I was only interested in getting of the gravel onto a proper sealed road so we didnâ€™t stop. By the time we reached Coramandel a coffee stop was definitely in order.
The drive from Coramandel to Thames is indescribably beautiful, and especially gorgeous in the evening as the sun was setting. The road is pretty twisty turny so hard to get a photo stop so youâ€™ll just have to trust me on this, or check out sunset photos from a previous trip â€¦
Arrived back at camp tired but happy after an excellent day. Next stop Taupo for a few days over New Year.