GUEST ARTICLE:Unless you enjoy driving for 400 km, stopover and rest in Auckland on your drive to the Coromandel Peninsula.
To satisfy those car cravings, a lunch break at La Nonna’s Italian Bakery located roadside outside Whangerei (north of Auckland) is the go. Pick up some fresh sweet or savoury muffins, almond croissants or brownies and wash these delightful treats down with a velvety cappuccino. Prices are excellent and the unique muffin fillings will keep your tummy satisfied.
As you drive into Auckland over the bridge, take some shots because you’ll realise why it’s the city of sails – it has the highest number of yachts per capita in the world.
You may find a string of camper vans dotting the shoreline, clever campers who know of this secluded spot. The beach is lined with bright white shards of shells, making each step a noisy crunch – the only sound you will hear, as you over look stunning plains and calm bluish-greenish water as far as the eye can see.
If you still have some spare time, stop for a slice of the creamiest boysenberry cheesecake at the Matatoki Farm Cheese (near Turua), another 20-minute detour off the main highway and pick up some award winning cheeses and Greek style yoghurt to enjoy for later.
Continuing on the main highway, you will enjoy picture perfect views of the coastline, Pohutukawa trees with bright red flowers and rolling valleys.
The Anchor Lodge Motel is an excellent, modern and good value accommodation option. If you’re lucky, book a top-level room nestled on the side of the hillside buried in a rainforest style setting. The owners are more than happy to give you tips on where to visit during your stay. Don’t forget to ask for the low tide times at Hotwater Beach the following day or you may end up very disappointed.
A bite at the Success Café in this one street town will not leave you disappointed. The vegetarian quiche served with salad and a mango-ginger relish was a creative touch. To walk off a few calories, do the Kauri Block Walk on the fringe of the town and head to the Pa Lookout to get a 360-degree view of the town, the seaside and mountains. Where the Kauri trees were was a mystery.
Head to Cathedral Cove and Hotwater Beach as early as you can the following morning so you don’t miss either side of the low tide at Hotwater Beach. If you’re on time, dig your own mini spa, but don’t forget to build a barricade to stop others destroying your peace while they dig frantically.
Don’t park at Haihei Beach to do the Cathedral Cove walk as it will add 30 minutes on to your trip. Do stop at Haihei Beach to get the first glimpse of the awesome views from ground level, but then drive to the Cathedral Cove Lookout car park. The walk will take 45 minutes at a lazy stroll, but 30 minutes if you’re a brisk walker.
Cathedral Cove is magical. There are two white sandy beach areas on either side of a large cave. There are a few large pointy rock formations on the shoreline and cold, but calm waves rolling in. A thin mini waterfall stream drips down one cliff face, forming a shallow pool at the bottom.
“Hotwater” beach turned into tepid water beach because I arrived just too late. You can hire a spade for NZ$5 (plus a NZ$20 bond), but you can use your hands and save $. The beach, much like the rest of the area is situated on a volcanic area, which means the underground water can reach up to 70 degrees Celsius – but only on a small patch of the beach where two springs are active.
This article has been written by Pranav Bhatt. He is a graduate of the Faculty of Economics and Business at Sydney University. He has an interest in world travel, cricket, politics, technology and the media.
If you’ve travelled somewhere off the beaten track, can write well and have good quality photos I encourage you to contact me and I’ll consider publishing your travel diary here including generous attribution and links back to your website as thanks for your contribution