Today is the third day of our road trip. We just left our camping for the night by Whangapoua beach and now we’re headed south along the beautiful western coast of the Coromandel peninsula. Winding roads, pohutukawa trees in full bloom with their crimson flowers, crystal blue sea, and mountains in the background to top it all off. So far New Zealand is offering us stunning scenery, beautiful beaches, charming towns, and amazingly friendly and helpful people. The atmosphere is down to earth, and we all felt right at home pretty much immediately.
Our first day in Auckland was mostly about landing. We went for a good walk in the harbour looking at amazing boats, had Mexican lunch in a place called Frida with a view to one of the former Americas cup boats. Guided by some locals we also found the icecream place, called Giapo – extraordinary icecream and a fun experience. Afterwards, we headed straight back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep. We went to bed without dinner, still jetlagged and too tired to stay awake.
We had read about Waiheke Island outside of Auckland, and we decided to spend our second day there. In the i-SITE centre in Auckland, we asked about bicycle rental in Waiheke and were given a leaflet from eCycles Waiheke – a bicycle rental in Waiheke that offered electric bikes. We had emailed them the evening before, and they had bikes ready for us when we came walking to the town of Oneroa from the ferry. If you’re going to Waiheke, and you want to rent bikes – definitely go see the guys at eCyclesNZ first. Not only because it’s a really good idea to have the electric assist for the serious hills, but also because they are awesome and give good advice. The guy who runs it even turned out to be Danish, so that was a funny coincidence.
We spent half that day bicycling all over Waiheke. Had our first encounter with the beautiful New Zealand beaches in Palm Beach, where we left the bikes under a tree, bought a cup of coffee and a home made Bounty bar from the Flying Fox, and went to stick our feet into the cold Pacific water. We visited the vineyard The Goldie Room and had a tasting and a cheese board, and we ended up bringing a rather expensive Chardonnay with us, that we are going to save for a special evening – New Years perhaps. After we returned the bicycles, we hung out on the beach for the rest of the afternoon, had our dinner in a cozy restaurant in Oneroa, and jumped on the ferry back to Auckland.
The next day, we packed our stuff, checked out of the hotel, and had a taxi take us to the Wendekreisen office, where we would be picking up our motorhome. After the papers were done and we had loaded the bags in the motorhome, we were finally ready for our road trip.
The first kilometres of driving in the left side of the road were expectedly shaky, but it never takes Mads long to take control over a new vehicle, and before long we were enjoying the stunning mountain views on our way to Hahei Beach. We spent our first motorhome night in Hahei Holiday Park, first row with a view to the sea. I am going to wear out my superlatives here, I know, but it was a beautiful place. Once we had parked the car, the girls ran down to the beach, while Mads and I unpacked and started to get a bit arranged in our new home. The sight that met us when we followed the girls later – beautiful white sand, cliffs dropped every here and there in the blue sea, and the girls running in the water, clearly enjoying it all. It was such a nice evening. Unpacking, getting out the calendar candle and the Christmas calendars, having our first dinner in the motorhome, and taking a walk at sunset to the viewpoint at the southern end of Hahei beach. We slept really well that night.
Next day after breakfast, we took off towards Cathedral Cove. From the car park, there is a 30-40 minutes walk to Cathedral Cove, and that is where we learned that no matter what weather it is, in New Zealand you should always be prepared for change. So when the rain started pouring halfway there, we didn’t have our rain coats with us and we had to work a little to keep up our spirits. Even though we were soaking wet when we got there, the place was still really worth the effort, and we spent a while there before we moved on. Our plan after that was to go to Stony Bay in the very North part of Coromandel, but we had a bit of a surprise, when we plotted the destination into the navigation, and realised that the drive would take a few hours more than what we expected. The motorhome doesn’t handle the route quite as quickly as a smaller car would, and the winding mountain roads just generally make sure that you have your foot on the brake as much as on the accelerator. In the beginning of the afternoon, we stopped at Castle Rock Café for lunch and benefitted from the experience of the locals. We were pointed to New Chum Beach (Wainuitoto Bay) instead and spent the night in the freedom camp nearby.
Now we’re on our way to Matamata to see the Hobbiton movie set – everyone is ok, and we love it here.