East Cape gave us a variety of experiences. We began with historical wharves – some falling down and some having been repaired and showing how industry was quite different in the past.
We saw some of the churches – very important to the large Maori presence on the Cape. One was very traditional on the outside and beautifully decorated Maori style on the inside. Another was just placed beautifully on a headland.
Around every corner was another perfect bay or scenic piece of coastline. We saw the sun set over the sea from Mahia Beach and the moon rise over Anaura Bay.
We moved on from East Cape and skipped right across the Bay of Plenty and all its beaches and went straight to the rugged and interesting coastline of the Coromandel Peninsula, a jewel of the North Island. First we explored some of their gold mining – the currently revived open pit gold mine at Waihi and the fascinating tunnels, railways and history of Karangahaka gorge. One tunnel we walked through was one kilometre long and another had windows cut into it so the miners could dump the rubble straight into the river.
We went to the tourist haven of Hahei which gave us the much photographed Cathedral Cove. We walked in with all the tourists at a high tide which limited access through the renowned arch. I then walked back in for sunrise the next morning and was surprised to find I wasn’t alone. It was well worth the early morning and two hours walk.
All the mountain ranges in the middle of the peninsula gave waterfalls to view and the remaining kauri trees that had not been cut down by the rapacious loggers. I also finally managed to photograph one of the harriers that we constantly see feeding on road kill.
The very northern tip of the Coromandel is like a different world. It is accessed by a narrow winding road that puts off many of the tourists ( with good reason as I held my breath as we went round every blind corner, especially those that hung over the ocean. Luckily we only met a Spaceship* on one and stopped in time) and the only accommodation is basic camping provided by the Department of Conservation. The scenery was stunning especially the two walks we did at the tip showcasing a dramatic coastline. * Rental company
We finished our time on the Coromandel Peninsula with an overnight walk to the Pinnacles, a remnant volcanic outcrop with magnificent views to the ocean and towns. The walk is a classic for many New Zealanders, especially Aucklanders who fill the 80 bed hut every Saturday night. We climbed up the steps and ladders to the viewing platform and then like every one else followed a rough path to the other end and admired the magnificent view to the coast without benefit of fences saving us from the drop. The Kiwis do not have a nanny mentality like Australia.