Saturday, September 30, 2017

Waiomu Beach on the Firth of Thames

Horse loose on the road as we drove
(needless to say, traffic stopped)

Another twisty water drive today, campers, this time on sealed road instead of gravel.

NZ's has a land mass of 103,00 square miles (it's about the size of Colorado) but has 9,404 miles of coastline. I don't think we've seen it all yet.

Here's the route (click here to view map if reading in email). If you pull out on the map a bit you'll see Auckland a scant 90 minutes away (and looming larger):

Our last stop is in wee Waiomu, precariously perched on the Firth of Thames, and the Seaspray Motel, old-school Kiwiana lodging perfect for eating our remaining food and re-packing.

If it were any closer to the water we'd need snorkels.

We walked a few blocks up to the cafe, it and the bait shop the only services around.

I'm having a mussel burger and Art mussel chowder (wait, are we in the bait shop?)

Then a stroll across the street to the expansive seaside park and the beach.

A woman juggling a hot cup of tea and a book saw us walking and said: are you visiting? When we answered yes she said heartily "welcome to NZ!" (and our hearts broke a little).

There are some unusual trees in this park, with beards made of roots that have been trimmed to create thick, fanlike mats. I must ask our host what they are.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Not Photoshopping in NZ

We were having our second meal this afternoon (curried chicken and cabbage) when I grabbed my camera and asked Art to smile

Bird symbology tells us that dove sightings indicate the beginning or ending of a life-changing event. How true, as we count down our precious days remaining here. NZ truly is a magical place...

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Back on Gravel: Road to Fletcher Bay

Roast chicken with cauliflower and onions for first meal today. We're ready for a hike.

We're driving to Fletcher Bay, an astonishing on-the-water and mostly-gravel trip. Come along for the drive. Seatbelt on? You'll be glad you buckled up.

Pied shag, I think. NZ Birds Online is a most helpful site.

Now we start to climb.

And turn inland for a bit.

Remember, I'm on the left side of the Rover. Uh, honey, could you stay right?


I'm not even sure where the road is in this one...

Art is doing a terrific job driving. On a one-lane gravel road you do your best to keep it in the middle, but he's not sitting in the left-hand seat, is he? 

Toward Fletcher Bay (and speaking of roads, I don't see one in this shot either).

Ford every stream

We made it. Fletcher Bay, with Great Barrier Island in the distance. We talked about taking a flight there, but we're out of time.
After nearly two hours of focusing intently on the road, Art is spent. We both wish our cozy caravan were parked right here and we could stay.
Instead, to get the blood moving we walk the start of the Coromandel Coastal Walkway (more here and some beautiful pictures), a 3.5-hour trek from Fletcher Bay to Stony Bay. No road connects the two. You can hire a group to drop you off and pick you up on the other end...or go for the round-trip 7 hours.

 Even this first portion is breathtaking.

Our route today (click here to view map if reading in email and pay no attention to how long google says it takes):

Ready for the trip back? 

We paused at Fantail Bay Recreation Reserve.

And quickly got back on the road to Amodeo Bay. It's an understatement to say this is intense driving, but I'm not on the sheer-cliff-face side anymore so I'm feeling relaxed (which makes no sense I admit).

Art will have to enjoy the views via this post, because he certainly wasn't looking anywhere but ahead.

This was a beautiful day.