Well, I’m in Coromandel town, on the Coromandel Peninsula at the moment. It’s a gorgeous, little town on the west coast of the peninsula and my God, the scenery and the coastline coming in on the bus from Thames to Coromandel was to die for. The road followed the coast, which was rocky and rugged, with gnarled, weather beaten trees, hanging out of the side of the small cliffs. These knotted, old trees had wrangly limbs, ones that cried out to be sat on and would have made a wonderful place to watch the sunset. On days when the weather wasn’t so good, the scenery was dark and moody, an artist’s or a photographer’s dream. Coromandel was the first place in New Zealand where gold was found and the town has kept it’s character, with the old, wooden facades on the buildings and arches outside the buildings to keep people dry from the rain.
I got to Thames on the bus and nipped to the loo. There was a queue, so by the time I got out of there, I only realised then, that I had left my red jacket on the bus, which had just pulled off to Auckland. Damn! I went in to the i-site centre next door and told them the story. They asked me to write down as much information as I could about which bus I had been on, what colour my jacket was etc and they said they would contact the Intercity driver of my bus. They called me back on the bus to Coromandel and said they would try to get the jacket sent to the i-site in Coromandel, where I was staying. I got a phonecall the next morning to say that they’d found the jacket and to expect it in Coromandel by 11am. This was at 10.30am, so I only had to wait half an hour and sure enough, the bus arrived and the driver had my red jacket. So I thanked him very much and the lady in Thames. I was impressed by the quick service! So, it’s not only me that has a wandering soul, my jacket does too. It got to Auckland two weeks before me!
I wanted to take it fairly easy in Coromandel and only did one or two tours/walks. I went to this Butterfly and Orchid garden just outside Thames. It’s a small little place, which houses hundreds of butterflies and a few different varieties of orchids. I was there for the butterflies though. There were millions of them, it seemed, flying around this greenhouse. It was lovely to watch all sorts of shapes and sizes of multicoloured butterflies, flitting from one flower or plant, to another. They would fly past your nose and sometimes land on your shoulder. www.butterfly.co.nz
I also went up to see the Driving Creek Railway.The railway was built nearly single handedly by a guy called Barry Bricknell. He’s an artist and potter as well, but this railway was his passion in his 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. You take this little train which runs through a forest, that has a lot of different types of trees like the Rimu, Kauri, Totara, Milo and also the Silver Fern. There are a few tunnels which we go through, that have a lot of pottery designs, which Barry made. There are also a few switchbacks, where they have to reverse the train and switch on to another piece of track. It’s a great feat of engineering and I think it’s the only one like it, in the world. At the top, is a tower called the “Eyeful Tower”, where you can see out above the tree tops, into the bay and beyond. There’s a lovely view from up there. They are also building a wildlife sanctuary, which they hope to have finished by next year and they want to bring in some kiwis too. If they don’t do something to help them, they’ll be extinct within 10 to 15 years. www.drivingcreekrailway.co.nz
I did a full day tour, with Coromandel Discovery Tours.They take you along the 309 Kauri Road, where you can see these 600 year old kauri trees, to the Waiau Waterworks, Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach. When I got my photo taken beside one of the kauri trees, I was like a dwarf beside it. It would have taken 4 of me to wrap my arms around it. We went to Cathedral Cove. Part of the headland has been eroded into the shape of a Cathedral Dome. We also went to Hot Water Beach, under which lies a fault line, where 2 tectonic plates collide under the ground.You can dig a hole in the sand in the beach and the hot water from the ground, seeps up into it and you can make a hot pool for yourself. An American couple gave us theirs, after we tried to dig our own and you could see the air bubbles floating up to the top of the little pool. The water in the middle of the pool was hot, hot enough to burn your foot. It’s amazing. We had a quick look around Whitianga and then headed back to Coromandel. www.coromandeldiscovery.co.nz
I had a great week in Coromandel. The funniest day, was the day I was leaving. I was on the bus at 7.45am on my way to Paihia. The bus is like a village bus where everybody knows each other’s first name and it stops off at the end of lanes and houses here and there. Well, this morning anyway, we picked up this woman at the end of a lane. She was reeking of drink! Her name was Maria. So she paid for 2 tickets and got on the bus. In the meantime, her husband staggered down the lane, with his shirt tails flying and bare chested. He got on the bus and he was worse than she was, at least she was fairly coherent! His name was Harry. They were arguing and fighting the whole way there. Harry got a bit amorous on the way there and Maria kept saying “No, I’m not giving you a kiss, you never ask me for one when you’re sober. You whacked me last night and gave me a sore face. Anyway, you should be out there catching us some kawabunga (which is some kind of fish)”. It was so funny, I was in stitches. It’s great to come across stuff like this. That’s what makes people so interesting.