Thursday, October 28, 2010

Whangamata, North Island, New Zealand


Oct 28, 2010 – Thursday –Warkworth to Whangamata, New Zealand – We are traveling to a B&B on the Coromandel Peninsula today, which means driving through the motorways of Auckland. After we leave the B&B in Warkworth, we do a quick trip to the neighbouring Parry Kauri Park & Warkworth Museum, where there are two very old and extremely large Kauri trees. The drive through Auckland goes extremely well, with traffic being a bit heavy, but it keeps moving nicely. The GPS keeps us on track and helps us to manoeuver through the maze of motorways and ramps around and through Auckland on our way around the Hauraki Gulf to Whangamata on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Whangamata beach & offshore islet
The Kotuku B&B is located a block from the beautiful estuary on the Otahu River in Whangamata, and we are only about four blocks from the beach. The beach is an absolutely stunning fine sand beach which goes on for several kilometres. There is virtually nobody on the beach at this time of year, which makes it even more attractive to us. On the recommendation of Peter, the B&B operator, we go to Oceana's restaurant, which is offering a choice of three mains on special this month for NZ$15. Two of the three choices are great: Scallops in mornay sauce, and Fish and Chips. The third choice, Steak Sandwich is not too terrific.

Cappuccino
Oct 29, 2010 – Friday –Whangamata, New Zealand – After breakfast this morning, we decide that today will be a "beach day", borrowing a term used on the cruise ship. Peter lends us some beach towels, and we sunbathe on the beach, wandering back and forth, and generally soak it all in for an hour or two. Nobody wants to burn, so we reluctantly return to the B&B to get cleaned up a bit before going to town for a coffee and a snack from one of the local bakeries. After a bit of window shopping in town, we spend most of the afternoon at the B&B relaxing and having tea with Peter around 4pm. For dinner, Peter suggests we try a Thai restaurant in town. We order the deep fried Snapper, which is good but not very big. We also order some vegetables to go with it, and share the platters, however even with rice, the meal was a bit too small for three people. Oh well, it won't hurt us to go away a bit hungry for once on this trip, especially after all the food we consumed on board the Volendam!

Hot Water Beach and surfing beach behind
Oct 30, 2010 – Saturday –Whangamata, New Zealand – After breakfast, we drive up to Hot Water Beach, which is spectacular with the surf crashing along the kilometer or so long sandy beach. Getting there however was stressful, since soon after we left Whangamata we encountered the K2 Cycle Race - a huge bicycle race going on along the highway. There were hundreds of bicyclists racing along the road in huge groups. New Zealand roads are so narrow and generally there are no paved shoulders, so the bicyclists took the lane, which held up traffic and caused some near accidents. That said, Hot Water Beach was worth seeing, and the trip back was less stressful since we were driving against the flow of bicycles, which were still being dispatched down the road.

We stop at Onemana Beach on the way back, which is yet another spectacular beach along the Coromandel Peninsula. There is a small community here, and the beach is virtually deserted at this time of year. After returning to the B&B and having a bit of a rest, we are served tea at 4pm by Peter. Afterward, we go back to Oceana's restaurant for dinner and have their specials again. Good food at a great price.

Oct 31, 2010 – Sunday –Whangamata to Rotorua, New Zealand – Peter makes us a nice omelet for breakfast, and then we depart for Rotorua. It isn't a long drive today, so we detour to see Waihi Beach, yet another spectacular New Zealand beach on the Coromandel Peninsula, complete with a small town. We spend a half hour or so walking the beach, and then resume our drive to Rotorua.

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