Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Days 2-4: Coromandel to Cambridge

We cruised down from Auckland and up the west coast of the Coromandel peninsula. This is rugged country, steep forested hills dropping straight into the sea. The drive was really beautiful, with the road twisting along the coast under the pohutukawa trees and always with the hills - wreathed in cloud - looming above. We pulled the van in on a stretch of deserted sea shore for our first wild camp, very nice indeed. Being able to stop wherever we fancy is very liberating.

Monday brought showers so we lay in and headed into Coromandel town for lunch. We spent an hour exploring the quirky Driving Creek Railway (thx mum and dad - good recommendation); good fun although dampened a little by the rain and low cloud. I'm sure the views are great on a fine day!

Our first dirt road coated the van in mud, gave us the chance to hug a giant Kauri tree, and deposited us on the east coast where we made camp for the night right on the beach. Not much of a view sadly, due to the ongoing rain situation. Tuesday morning we hit the road to get some miles in and give the rain a chance to clear.

A couple of hours cruising down the coast brought us to the Karangahake Gorge. This was definitely a highlight thus far: The road winds along the side of the steep, forested gorge, above a rushing river, all sweeping curves. Everywhere are the remnants of the gold and silver mining that thrived in this area 100 years ago. We stopped to explore one of the many paths in the area, heading up a side gorge past the ruins of the main mine workings, now all wreathed in ferns and moss. From there the path picked up an old mine tramway that eventually disappeared into the cliff. We went in after it, torch in hand, and threaded our way through the wall of the gorge itself. This was great - regular windows in the tunnel gave us views from high in the cliff wall of the gorge and we even go to see some glow-worms! K was super-brave and actually enjoyed it, I think!

The tunnels

View over the Karangahake Gorge
From here we crossed farming country, what must be the cow centre of New Zealand. Tractor dealerships and industrial dairies were everywhere, and adverts on local radio tended towards "Do you need solar power for you cattle shed? Just call us". Beautiful country though, very green and with cute round hills poking up. Think "The Shire" - this is where it was filmed.

Last night we barbecued ourselves some homemade lamb burgers last night (yum!) and this morning we are debating plans. We had intended to head down the west coast and explore the surf beaches, but the forecast for the next few days is rain so maybe deserted beaches aren't the best option...


Anonymous said...

V. glad to hear you are enjoying yourselves, despite the weather. The latest photos bring back happy memories for your mum. Enjoy and take care.

BTW English blogs should only have comments in English!!!!


Anonymous said...

Oh, forgot to ask for evidence that you are travelling in a motor home.


Solvnotan said...

Så vackert ni har det, var det inte läskigt i tunneln, hu, och Kristin klarade av att se orm, fantastiskt. Var rädda om er, och fortsatt trevlig resa. Här är allt bra, stickar sockar till Anders och Christina till julklapp. Puss

Ian said...

Thanks for the comments! Motor home photos will follow shortly :-)

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