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West Coast to East

Saturday 3rd October 2015

storm 16 °C

We were greeted this morning by Robert appearing on the veranda with a couple of huge and very delicious date and orange scones for our breakfast, despite the fact that food wasn't included in our package. When we had eaten and packed up, we went to check out we had quite a long chat with him about the area, our respective lives and about photography (there were lots of his photographs around our apartment). Despite waking up to rain I felt thoroughly cheery and had really enjoyed our short stay in Swanson. As we hadn't had a chance to explore the area we decided to make the 15 minute drive to the nearest beach. Having done some research I knew that Bethells Beach was mainly covered in black volcanic sand which gave it a dramatic and atmospheric look in pictures. The weather remained a bit rough and although the rain had halted temporarily it was extremely blustery once we got onto the beach. We had to walk a short distance along the black sand beside the river before we reached the beach proper. There is a a springlike feel to New Zealand now, with many wild flowers starting to come into bloom. This area was no exception with wild yellow lupins growing on the edge of the dunes.

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At the entrance to the bay there is a lifeguard lookout tower, slightly faded and battered as it tries to hold its own against the elements.

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There was a large group of lifeguards obviously on some sort of training exercise. The sea looked cold, rough and uninviting. It was a stark reminder that being a lifeguard isn't all Baywatch and sunning yourself and I have total admiration for people who put their lives at risk in this way. Both Nigel and I started to explore the beach walking to the left towards where Robert had told us there were some caves. It was still very windy and in the end Nigel sat part way along the beach whilst I walked to the far end. The scenery was stunning and I took quite a few photographs but in the end I wasn't able to get to the cave as the tide was already in too far.

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I then made my way back to meet Nigel and together we went to have a look at the other end of the beach where the river flowed into the sea. The lifeguards where still out in the water and were working with dinghies and sea scooters. Over by the river there where a number of people walking their dogs and there was one group that had a really large group of animals and looked as though they were either professional dog walkers or breeders. We also saw a couple of people on horse back and it really struck me what a beautiful spot it was to go riding.

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After about an hour or so on the beach we had got very windswept and also a little chilly. We were also mindful that we had quite a long drive ahead of us so we made our way back to the car.

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The journey was pretty uneventful and for the first half or so we were driving around the outskirts of Auckland. Once we had negotiated the city traffic with the help of the sat-nav we were then on the straight roads across the northern inland part of the country. By this time we were getting quite hungry and places to stop were few and far between. Nigel saw a very uninspiring place called the Pink Pig Cafe and after a bit of deliberation and hesitation on my part, we went in.

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Nigel had a pie which was sitting warm in the food cabinet and I ordered a bacon sandwich. The coffees took about 15 minutes to arrive and my food longer. It was the most uninspiring bacon sandwich I had ever had. Any relationship to the pig that gave the cafe its name was tenuous. It amused me that other customers seemed to come and go in an amazingly short space of time. The only thing I could say about the place was that it was an experience. Looking later on trip advisor it seemed to divide the crowds with two positive and two of the most negative reviews I have ever seen including one that said "Greasy spoon stuff. Out-dated. Zero character or ambience. Grubby, empty, cheap. And by that I mean it looks as though the owner doesn't give a toss." What more can one say! Interestingly a few miles down the road we saw another place called the Bugger Cafe which had the strap line "Laugh a Little". Outside it had a rather staged tractor crashed into the restaurant sign. Later in our new bed and breakfast they all just laughed when we said where we had eaten. Apparently the second restaurants which is decorated with photographs of those bugger moments when only that expletive will do, is actually quite an entertaining place to go. As Nigel so eloquently put it, perhaps our 'bugger' moment of the day was eating at the first cafe and not the second!

As we neared the Coromandel Peninsular the scenery became more dramatic with some unusually shaped hills and and valleys filled with either forest or pastoral land.

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We found our accommodation fairly easily and were greeted by the owner Colin who showed us round. The house is in a stunning position over looking both the estuary and the sea and also has a pool (which sadly at this time of year was too cold to swim in).

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We settled in and relaxed for a while and then met up with our hosts and the other guests for a glass of wine and some entrees at about 6pm. Our hosts had very kindly booked us a table at one of the few restaurants open that night and so we went there for a very nice evening meal. The day had started and finished really well and the bit in the middle was pretty entertaining, and you can't ask for much more than that.

Posted by Gill's Travels 10:07 Archived in New Zealand Tagged beaches sea new_zealand coromandel

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