Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Picture Story... Road Trip!

I know, they are long awaited as I keep talking about all the wonderful things I'm doing in such beautiful places but you have yet to see what I mean! It's difficult to upload pictures with limited internet access, so I have omitted them for the most part so far. But, alas, I am going add some here from the road trip I took with Nate last weekend so you can finally have a taste the beauty I see every day :)

Here is our rental, at a look out along the major road (one lane each direction) that brought us up the Coromandel Peninsula. Looking at a map of the North Island, the Coromandel is the piece of land that sticks up in the middle, East of Auckland.
We arrived at Whitianga and found a backpackers (hostel) on the water where we ended up staying for two nights. Here are some awesome clouds from the beach the first night!
And Nate and I enjoying a bit of freedom :)
The next morning, we borrowed kayaks from the backpackers and set off for a place called Lonely Bay.
It sure was lonely! We had it to ourselves for most of the morning!

I found my way up an overgrown trail to Shakespeare Lookout where I encountered a fantastic view, a couple who had driven to the point, and a much more accessible staircase which I used to return to the beach in Lonely Bay. As you can see, with just our kayaks, it was quite lonely, and lovely!

Nate, playing in the surf

I may not be that much of a beach person, but cartwheels in the surf are pretty fun :)

Of course, I had to do a headstand too!

Then we were off on more adventures for the afternoon! We stopped at Stingray Bay (but didn't see any)

And took some pictures on the way to Cathedral Cove... The views always seem to be stunning!

I'm not sure how much detail I went into before about my WWOOFing tasks, but the first couple days were spent wandering around the farm, killing thistles. There are apparently at least three different kinds of thistles, and ever since we left, Nate and I spotted them everywhere. This bench seems like it had a nice view at some point... before the bloody thistles took over!

The "quintessential spot" for taking awesome New Zealand pictures: Cathedral Cove

This called for more frolicking in the surf :)

Another part of Cathedral Cove. We took a series of pictures with Nate and I climbing around on the rock structure in the middle, but we were losing light quickly, so they came out a bit dark.

We did have fun in some of the little caves around Cathedral Cove!

And then we were off to Hot Water Beach! The timing worked out well as we caught  the sun setting right around low tide (the best time to visit)!

Hot Water Beach has a natural hot spring that flows up from below the beach. It delivers EXTREMELY hot water, but if you dig a pool and mix it with some ocean water, it makes for quite a nice personal hot tub! It took us a while to get the technique down, but we were eventually able to relax and watch the first stars come out before the tide came in and washed away our spa!

The next day we took the 309 road (second major highway) west toward Coromandel  Town. 309 is roughly the width of a driveway, and is an unsealed (gravel) road. We stopped at a Kauri Grove to check out the giant, ancient trees (most of which have been cut down for wood). As you can see, it was a little rainy so we decided to skip climbing up to Castle Rock, as we were told you only go for the view. Instead we found a backpackers in Coromandel Town with a cozy common room/porch area and enjoyed a few lazy hours. After that, however, the skies cleared up and we headed back to Castle Rock.

I'm sure glad we did! The trek to the top was steep and muddy at times, but it was worth it. The view was spectacular. We could see both coasts of the peninsula, and all the way across the gulf to Auckland. Absolutely stunning.

A little scary to do a headstand up there, but I had to continue with my theme! 

When we returned to the backpackers, the sun was almost setting, so we asked our host for the best spot to watch it and found ourselves on another hike up to the top of a hill by the beach. Another worthwhile venture!

The next morning, we woke up while it was dark and returned to the top of the access road for Castle Rock to catch the sunrise. Yet another beautiful, beautiful thing (though it was quite cold up there with all the wind)!

We then headed back East (via the actual, mostly-two-lane highway this time) to explore some recommended beaches. Here I am playing at New Chums Beach, another secluded, beautiful beach.

Then I found a rope swing to play on!

After a while we headed over to Opito Bay (quite a long drive on back country roads) and followed our instructions to walk up the steps to get to Crayfish Bay. The mentioned stairs led to the top of a giant grassy hill, which we followed to the point. The path then began to drop off into a rocky bay with some stunning views. We decided the top was a good place to stop for lunch and take in the scenery!

A view of Opito Bay from partway down the stairs... it was a long way down!

That was out last stop on the Coromandel. After that we headed back towards Auckland, stayed with Dave (my first couchsurfing host) for the night, and borrowed some camping gear before heading to the west coast of Auckland. 

We explored Piha for the day, and camped there for the night. This is at the top of Lion Rock, one of the massive rock structures on the coast of town.

We took a break from the beaches to hike to Kitekite Falls, which very much reminded me of some of the gorges in Ithaca, NY! 
We then went back to the beaches a little South of town and explored the rock structures around Blue Pool (I think that's the name!) It was a fascinating tide pool with lots of nooks and crannys. I had fun climbing around on the rocky beach, until I fell from about 2 feet off the ground and landed pretty hard. This resulted in a few scrapes and bruises, and making use of my medical insurance coverage to consult a doctor about my swollen hand. All is good, though, as the swelling has reduced and I think it will just take a little time to return to normal!
Overall, Nate and I had a great road trip! Although I do still feel bad for leaving early, I am glad we had an adventure much different from our WWOOFing experience. The sights we saw could never accurately be represented in photographs, but hopefully they will at least begin to give you an idea! Cheers :)


  1. Thank you! I've been trying but most of my internet connections are limited in some way: time, cost, or # of MB, so I've been posting when I can!

  2. Just been to the Coromandel myself - it's beautiful!

    ALas, we didn't get to see Cathedral Cover - landslide risk.


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