|When we arrive back at Coromandel town we stock up with food and fuel and head down to “the waterworks” this is a great place with lots of wacky inventions and interactive exhibits all based around water. There are water pumps you crank wildly to make all sorts of things happen, water canons, water powered devices you name it’s got it along with two great flying foxes and a ‘kiddies’ play area.
It’s all done with a sense of humour too, for example the “gullible pump” where you crank the handle watching where you think the water will appear whilst being sprayed from the hidden pipe up in the tree. We both thoroughly enjoyed it and learnt a bit too. Afterwards we carry on around the coast road towards our next destination “cathedral cove” The intention was to stop and break the journey up but the only campsite on the way is fairly expensive and non descpript, pressing on the campsite at cathedral cove is the same price but right next to a stunning beach. A small crowd ebbs and flows as we put up the tent, curious campers come for a look at the strange motorcycle that rode through the campsite. It’s really busy compared to most sites we have stayed at despite the fact that it is no longer the school holidays a measure of this areas popularity. One of the visitors is James who is an English guy who lives out here now. We have a good chat before he heads back to his family and leaves us to finish putting up the tent. He reg-emerges a few minutes later with a couple of cold beers for us and says he thinks we deserve them, what a top bloke !
Once the tent is up and the house is a home i.e the airbeds pumped up, the sleeping bags are out and everything else is in we take the short walk down to the beach. It’s just over a dune and once you reach the crest it takes your breath away (and you understand why there are so many people here)
The beach is the stuff of holiday brochures, golden sand which stretches for miles and miles (sorry km’s here) and a glorious view out to lots of small islands.
The sun is setting so we take some pictures before the light goes and then go for a walk along the length of the beach before returning to bed.
We are swamped with kindness here, another Kiwi couple camped opposite Leonie and Doug gives us some eggs and leftover sausages for breakfast which is a nice treat as we don’t have eggs very often, they don’t travel well. There is even a campers kichen here so we take everything down there and take advantage of having a cooker, we cook french toast and sausages for breakfast -yum!
The morning sky is a little overcast but we hope to go sea kayaking today so this it’s probably a blessing that it’s not too hot. Asking at the office reveals that normally it’s well booked up but we are in luck they can squeeze us in. This as it turns out is doubly lucky as the footpath to cathedral cove itself is impassable due to damage caused by cyclone wilma as a big slip has occurred. Cathedral cove is a couple of bays down the coast and the only way to get to it at the moment is swimming (a long way) or kayaking. At midday we meet the rest of the group and our guide Mark on the beach, he runs us all through the drill and then we take turns to launch. He lines us up on the sea edge and then gives us a good shove between two waves so we can get past the breakers. Once we are all on the water we raft up to make sure everyone is okay then it’s off along the coast about 100m from shore past stingray bay to cathedral cove. It takes about 20mins to get there past limestone cliffs and islets sculpted by time and tide. Marky goes in first and jumps out to drag us in, one at a time we paddle in surfing on the waves. Once on the beach Marky rattles off a list of coffee and tea choices that would not be out of place in a restaurant, his cafe is stowed in his kayak and we all mark our choices in the sand. While he is making the coffee we go for an explore, there is a massive archway which leads through to the other half of the bay. The cliffs here are soft sandstone and have been carved into smooth caves and soft shapes by the battering from the sea at high tide, it gives us some good photo oportunities. We can see why the pathway is shut as the wooden steps that lead up the hill are matchwood and some of the hillside has slipped away, they think it will be months before it is fixed. After lots of photos and a good look round we hear a shout that coffee’s ready so we head back to the boats and enjoy a capuccino and cookies on the beach before it’s time to get back out on the water. This time we head out around some of the islands and through a channel they call the washing machine a choppy section of water between the main island and a couple of little islets before a longer paddle out in deep water and then back to the beach. It’s the first time we have tried a 2 man sea kayak and we really enjoy the afternoon. It’s better for Karen as she doesn’t get so tired and it allows me to stop and take pictures as I have the camera in a dry bag clipped to the deck and Karen can keep everything steady while I take pictures.
Once we are back on the beach we thank Mark and head back to the campsite. After a bit of a rest we decide to try to squeeze in hot water beach before we go out tonight as the tide is right. There is a band on in the local bar and James and Naomi are going so we say we will join them later. Grabbing our togs and a towel we jump on the bike and head down to hot water beach which is about 10km up the coast. In true Kiwi style it is exactly what the name suggests a beach where there are underground geothermal springs. If you dig a hole in the right spot 2hrs either side of low tide it fills with hot water and you can sit in a hot spa on the beach. There is a car park and changing rooms next to it so we pull up and get changed into our togs stashing all the bike gear into our empty panniers and retrieving our folding shovel from under the gearbox where it lives. There are loads of people there some digging furiously and some already reclining in their hot pool, walking along the beach looking for a suitable spot you know when you are in the right place as the sand is hot to walk on in bare feet. It is very localised in certain spots so we ask an English couple Cath and Ron who only have a broken plastic spade if they mind sharing and we will help dig. They are happy to share and Karen manages to borrow a spade as well, we all dig like dervishes for about 15mins. It feels like it’s collapsing as fast as you are digging but eventually we have a good sized pool for four. In spots the water is really hot (70deg) so we make a channel to the seawater so we can mix hot and cold which works well. The scene around is absurd with about 200 people packed into a small section of the beach while the rest of it is deserted. Its got to be done though and it’s a pleasant but bizarre experience lying in a hot pool on a beach looking out at the sea surrounded by clouds of steam and lots of other people doing the same thing.
An hour or so later we bid our fellow bathers farewell and head back to get changed, a lot of people are still in the car park doing the same thing and we pose for lots of pictures and get chatting to some of them. By the time we get back to the campsite and walk into town its 9pm, we haven’t eaten and we are both starving. Just as we get to the bar the lady shouts foods finished, we must have looked crestfallen or hungry as she relents and we are literally the last food order. It’s not cheap but the portions look big so we opt to go halves on a pizza which is delicious and quells our apppetites a bit. We find James and Naomi and sit next to them and talk while we eat, once we have finished we wander down to the bar area to watch the guitarist as he’s very good. A beer or two later we get chatting to another British couple who have moved out here (the place is full of poms) A good evening ensues and we aren’t back to the tent til midnight.