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A Tour Round the Coromandel

Sunday 4th October 2015

semi-overcast 17 °C

We only really had one day in the Coromandel so I wanted to make the most of it. We had seen a leaflet for a boat tour that departed from Hahei beach which was about half an hour up the coast from where we were staying. Our hosts kindly rang up and booked this for us and all we needed to do was leave just after 9am in order to arrive the required 15 minutes before departure. The boat was a Rigid Inflatable Boat or RIB (according to Nigel) capable of seating ten passengers although there were only eight on our trip. Once the boat was launched, we had our life jackets on and shoes off, we waded into the rather cold water up to our knees to climb aboard.


We starting off going north to have a look at Cathedral Cave before we were taken into deeper water and then through our first sea cave. We then went up close to some dramatic sail shaped rocks at one end of Moteuka Island.


We went in several more sea caves and had some great views of the coastline


but probably the most dramatic point of the trip was going inside a blowhole cave that has a huge gaping whole with trees growing round the rim. Sadly it wasn't long before the hour long boat trip was over. We spent a little bit of time exploring the beach whilst our sandy feet dried off and then went for a coffee by the harbour.

We hadn't decided definitely what we were going to do next, but I was keen to see a bit more of the Coromandel and so we headed towards the town intending to catch the 2pm train at Driving Creek which is just north of the town. The railway is the lifetime work of one man; engineer and potter Barry Brickell who spent about 32 years building the railway. Initially this was just to move clay from the pit where it was dug to his studio, but he carried on laying track and building locomotives. It was opened to the public in the main to generate an income and keep the bank manager happy. In order to gain height on the hillside there are two spirals, several narrow tunnels and a number of reversing points.


Much of the line is decorated with bits of pottery and there is evidence of the man's humour everywhere, including the naming of the observation tower at the top as the Eyefull Tower. It was a great ride through the forest, very good views from the top


and lots of information about the flora and the replanting that has taken place including a large number of Kauri trees. It was also really interesting hearing about this eccentric man. When we got back down to the bottom station we had a look in the shop and it was nice to be able to buy some pottery from the guy who drove our train.

We now needed to start making our way back to Tauria. We stopped at a couple of viewpoints including one at Kuaotunu beach. The weather had become very stormy and the light over the sea was magical. Some fishermen were trying to get a small boat launched and I didn't envy them going out in that weather.


We had also been advised to have a look at a place called Lonely Beach which had a headland/ lookout above at a place called Shakespeare Cliffs.


We had started walking to the beach but carried on up, walking rather than taking the easier option of driving. Our final spot for the day was a visit to Hot Water Beach. This is a popular tourist attraction in the area for the short period of time (an hour either side of low tide) when geothermal hot water bubbles up out of the sand. Most people either bring a spade in order to dig a pool which then fills with the warm water, or they hire one from a nearby cafe. We arrived quite late, although still within the recommended two hour window, and it wasn't long before sunset. This meant that there were already quite a lot of people that had dug pools in the short area of beach that has this phenomena present, so we were able to make use of one that someone else had dug. I had forgotten to bring a change of clothes so I just sat on the edge of a pool but with my feet in the water.


It was great fun having a battle trying to keep the incoming tide out of the pools. We had to be careful though as the water was hot enough to burn yourself if you are not careful (it can be as hot as 64 °C). We stayed there until dusk and then drove back to Tairua and brought a portion of fish and chips that we shared sitting in the car parked near the harbour. We both agreed that it had been a very busy and a bit of a hectic day but a very enjoyable one.

Posted by Gill's Travels 02:17 Archived in New Zealand Tagged beaches trains ocean new_zealand coromandel

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