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This page last updated: 29th November 2005.
|Day 25: Coromandel||Map|
We have breakfast in the dining room. Petra cooks a very delicious omelette which she brings fresh to the table. Whilst Christine finishes off the packing, I fetch the car round from the carpark.
We have heard about the Saturday street market in Thames, and we also want to do the circuit of the Coromandel Peninsula. We decide not to go direct to Whitianga, with side-trips to Hot Water Beach and Hahei, but take SH25a across to Thames.
The town is spread out along a single main street. At the top end of town a series of stalls line the pavements in front of the shops on either side of the road. There are second-hand stalls selling clothes, books, antiques. Others offer crafts, ironwork, toys, confectionery. We spend some time wandering around, buy a tee-shirt with "Singapore" on it for our son Craig, and barter for a few souvenir knick-knacks. We also get some ice-cream in a small caf.
The road up the Firth of Thames is quite narrow and a little busy. Christine is pleased to have the sea on her side for a change. The road leaves the shore and climbs up a steep, winding hill to a gorgeous viewpoint overlooking Manaia Harbour, with Te Kouma and Coromandel Harbours in the distance. Offshore are a number of islands.
At the edge of Coromandel Town, we turn right on to SH25. The short route 309 road across the peninsula is prohibited to rental cars. The main road cutting across to the west coast is in the process of being metalled. We have to negotiate our way over the gravel and around the huge earth-moving machinery that is presently working on the road. As far as Te Rerenga the road is still gravelled and passes through thick forest. It calls for careful driving. The new surfaced road starts at Te Rerenga and is relatively straight.
We stop at Kuaotunu and take a walk on the beach. Little streams cut through the sand, their sides crumbling like a model of a glacial valley. From here is a short drive down to Whitianga and our overnight stay at the Mercury Bay Beachfront Resort.
We have a ground floor room, very spacious, with its own bathroom and access via french windows to a lawn. A set of wooden steps lead from the lawn direct to the beach. Two islands, situated at either end of the bay, make a stunning view. It is, however, too late in the afternoon to arrange a boat-trip to the famed Cathedral Cove. Summer-time in NZ ended the previous weekend and so sunset now arrives much earlier than when we were on the South Island.
Come evening, we drive down into town. For once we are hungry and in need of a good evening meal. We decide on the Harbour View Restaurant. The waiter is very friendly and recommends their special. He even takes our photograph. We know we have chosen a good place, frequented by knowing locals, when a family come to the next table. The young mother asks us if we mind her parking the baby in her push-chair nearby. She is with her husband, a lad of around seven or eight and his grandmother. They are obviously regular customers. The meal is excellent, well-cooked, tasty and good value.
|Journal - Day 26||Photographs - Day 25|