So over the weekend of September 21st, I headed off with my partner in crime, Matt to have a bit of a roadtrip to The Coromandel. This served several functions. It was firstly to celebrate my 9 year anniversary with Matt who has suffered through a lot with me. It was also my anniversary with New Zealand. I arrived in this crazy country in 2004, aged 21. No real idea what I was doing or what to expect, besides a lot of sheep (which I can confirm, was pretty accurate. There are a lot of sheep). One of our first roadtrips was up to the Coromandel and so it was really my introduction to the New Zealand landscape which would go on to play a pretty big part in my relationship with my camera.
So the Coromandel was a clear goal for this trip. And finally it's been a REALLY long time since I've been anywhere near a proper waterfall. And I loooooves me a waterfall. Palmerston North is fantastic. We have Wendys and everything now. Not to mention a giant phallic clock tower that glows purple at night (not even kidding guys!) but when it comes to landscape photography and waterfalls, we are sadly lacking.
Our journey took us up via Lake Taupo, up through the Karangahake Gorge and up as far as Tairua which was our base. We also ventured further north to Cooks Beach and Cathedral Cove. So I thought I'd share with you some of the high points of our adventuring.
First up, we have some beautiful mist covered trees spotted on the drive up towards Taupo.
Lake Taupo always delivers.
The beautiful Karangahake Gorge.
Exploring the old goldmines of the Karangahake Gorge
The fun thing about exploring the tunnels is that I seriously have no idea how far back they go. After we'd taken a right turn and it continued on going into the darkness, we decided to turn back. I don't want to say that there was concern over being attacked by ghost miners but yes, there was a fairly hefty concern about being attacked by ghost miners.
The early evening drive over the misty hills to Tairua was fun in an "oh we're going to get eaten by King Kong!" kind of way.
Driving up to the North of The Coromandel - this was the following day incidentally. I neglected to photograph our evening where we dined with the locals in a pub. You haven't truly experienced small town New Zealand until you've listened to Dave Dobbyn on the jukebox for 2 hours whilst people very loudly explain to rugby players on the TV what they're doing wrong.
OK, these guys need a little introduction. The 309 Road that connects the East and West side of the Coromandel Peninsula is home to "Stu's pigs". I didn't meet Stu and I'm a little unclear on where he actually lives but his pigs are living the good life out there. They have their own area full of broken down old cars and bent up fences - which have long since been trashed so the pigs (and their unbelievably adorable tiny piglets) are just wandering around all over the place, over the road, into the bush. Wherever they feel like really. They are overseen by an extremely loud cockerel who sits in the back of old truck, surveying his kingdom. I don't know quite what his function is but he had attitude.
It's a bumpy old road to explore but if you're a pig lover travelling in the Coromandel, get over there and say hi. They're very friendly and cute. I may never touch a porkchop again...
Cathedral Cove remains one of my favourite beaches in New Zealand. Unfortunately, that's not a very original opinion. The beach attracts a lot of visitors. But it left a big impression on me when I first arrived in New Zealand so it was important to me to go back. We left it until fairly late in the day and were rewarded with a relatively empty beach. I was a little more prepared for the 45 minute trek down there this time too. On my first visit I made the staggeringly stupid decision to wear flip flops to walk down in. I don't think my toes have every quite forgiven me..
It's basically illegal to drive through the Karangahake Gorge without stopping at Owheroa Falls. Or at least it should be.
We took an early morning walk up Mt Paku which overlooks the small town of Tairua where we stayed. We took the wussy way out and drove to the car park near the top but there was still a 20 minute walk up through the trees. After a couple of minutes of walking we realised we had a companion who accompanied us all the way to the summit and all the way back down again afterwards! Edwina, you were the perfect host and it was a pleasure making your acquaintance.
I got the impression this was not the first time she'd lounged here..
Which brings us to the end really, as we had a long drive back to the delights of Palmerston North. We did have some other plans but I spent too long with Edwina and we ran out of time. Oops.
Thanks for reading if you've made it this far. And a quick shout out to the lovely Paul at The Blue Water Motel for making our stay so fab. Highly recommended if you're looking for somewhere close to the best bits of the Coromandel.
If you want to keep up with my updates and pictures and ramblings, be sure to "Like" my facebook page over here! Thanks for reading, kids! Until next time..