Thirty Seven Days On North Island 4

20 January 20

Posted at 8:44

Our five day stay in Coromandel Town ends this weekend which in some ways is sad as it’s a gem of a place. We stayed here for a couple of days in a camper van about four years ago so it was not all new and of course on our first stay we visited  the famous Driving Creek Railway built by the eccentric Barry Bricknell who has unfortunately now passed away. We didn't go back this time even though it is just a few hundred metres from our cottage but if you ever do venture here it is a must Driving Creek Railway

Yesterday we took a short, and again windy, drive east along R25 heading first of all to Kuaotunu. A natural bay with endless sandy beaches, nearly deserted, apart from an area where people come to launch their fishing boats. We of course arrived after most had sailed, well powered, off across the horizon for some sport or to catch their supper. The only evidence that they were here were numerous boat trailers hooked up to a variety of 4x4's and tractors. However they were lost in the vastness of the bay so did not spoil the experience. Facing the bay are a lot of well tasty houses with panoramic windows. They are built into the cliffs or on stilts. Pricey no doubt. There is a kind of grading with at the north end of the beach more modest chalets and holiday homes, even a campsite. The quality and size of the accommodation improves as you go south. This all culminates at Kuaotunu Village the centre piece of which is Luke’s Kitchen. A great eatery just across from the beach, staff are brilliant and pizzas to die for. There's nothing at Kuaotunu like plastic seaside attractions, fast food outlets, slots etc. just the natural world on the beaches where anyone and everyone can have adventures to their hearts desire. However if something a little more commercial is what you require Whitianga is just sixteen kilometres further South. Whitianga is a town, has a little port, a little ferry that takes you across the peninsular to some hilly walks and of course a wide array of restaurants, even an Irish pub. Our landlady describes Whitianga as 'upmarket European with real shops', make what you will of that. I think it suffice to say that it is a less rural community than Coromandel Town and light years away from Colville. The 'plastic' seaside attractions for kids are predominantly wood in structure, look fun and good exercise its all a tad better than we have at home. I guess Whitianga may be one of the tourist highlights of the Coromandel Peninsular.Kuaotunu Beach

This morning after the obligatory stop for coffee we drove to Long Bay on the west side of Coromandel. We set off to do the fairly short Kauri Tree walk which starts at the Long Bay campsite. The Kauri tree, a magnificent tree that grows to a massive size and lives forever is under threat from disease and protected wherever you walk (tramp) in New Zealand. So before setting out you walk over a grid that sprays disinfectant on the soles of your shoes. About halfway round the circular walk through enchanting native bush you come across an unbelievably giant Kauri tree. It's like Jack’s giant beanstalk only much bigger. You can look up and see mini Kew gardens of parasites growing out of where the branches sprout. It is impossible to take the whole thing in with just one look and as this monster grows out of dense bush there is little point of trying to photograph it. The tree is thought to be over 1200 years old. It’s not difficult to see why the Kiwis wish to protect it. We walked on to complete the Kauri tree walk. The end is signified by another disinfectant dip. At this point you may turn left and a five minute walk back to Long Bay or turn right and take a twenty minute route via Tucks Bay.

We visited Tucks Bay four years ago, we cycled there on a route not designed for bicycles I seem to remember so we went that way. On arrival at Tucks Bay we made for the only picnic table and benches in the little bay. Tucks Bay is a beach full of mussel colonies at one end. Behind the beach is a freedom camping area. i.e. a large area of mown grass divided into plots, each plot having a number and nothing else, no camping facilities. A few of the plots were populated by families, tents, boats, children etc. People were frolicking in the sea, fishing and playing, and the campers were going about the tasks of camping. There were not many there so lots of room for all. We sat at our table at the less populated end of the bay, looking out at the islands and generally enjoying our selves. Behind our table were two plots, unoccupied, except in the middle of one was a pile of discarded camping equipment. Fairly neatly piled and covered with two large towels but the contents spilled out, although neat the pile looked more dumped than placed. On closer inspection there were two large mattresses, a flat rubber dingy, cooking utensils, poly bags full of rags or maybe clothes, a polystyrene cool box and a set of lights from a trailer. There was no evidence of a tent. The pile looked abandoned. My mind wandered as to what the story was. It was past midday on Sunday. I decided that a group of youngsters, probably just teenagers had come to Tucks Bay for a few days for a party. After endless hours of fun they couldn’t be arsed to pack up their debris so had just piled it up and returned to Auckland or wherever. I thought, I bet the families here weren’t happy with this mini rave going on night and day and I doubted the authorities would be pleased about the fly tipping. There might even be a letter to the Coromandel Reporter!! Still we’ve all been there, haven’t we?

I was snapped out of my wandering thoughts when a beaten up old pick up truck towing a sizeable boat came roaring out of the bush and proceeded to do a circuit of Tucks Bay freedom campsite at some speed. In the boat being thrown from side to side were two children, a girl of about eleven years old and a boy of about seven. There was a massive gas BBQ strapped in the back of the pick up. The truck and boat screeched to a halt at the top of the plots where we were sitting. A woman got out, walked towards us, nodded and smiled, and began to direct the truck to reverse alongside the plots. It did so at some pace, grounding the tow bar as it crossed a small ridge. To my amazement it parked alongside the camping equipment pile missing it by just an inch or two. Impressive! The lady signalled to the children to get out of the boat and said to the kids, “right, bugger off you two’. At which point they both obediently ran across the beach and into the sea. We complemented her on her parenting skills. Dad got out of the truck, climbed into the boat and hung up wet towels the children had left. Mum rescued another sleepy five year old girl from the rear of the pick up and encouraged her to join the others in the sea. Dad commented how the kids had been swimming all morning and hopefully they would all be knackered later on.The Camper Family

Mum and Dad between them loaded the camping debris pile into the boat in an impressive organised fashion. They worked like it was a well drilled practice. The towels then laid over the boat contents like a tarp. The family was summoned and with the kids on board our new camper friends bid us farewell and drove back into the bush, more sedately than they had arrived.

We made our way round the bay and up and along the non bicycle path. Impressed and a little intrigued at what we had seen. The path eventually arrives back at Long Bay. The campsite there big and formal. Large family tents with awnings under which carpet has been laid to create a home from home. Most have bought more than the kitchen sink with them. There are shower units, a camp shop, fish filleting stations for the many anglers. The whole experience is light years away from Tuck’s Bay just along the coast. So imagine our surprise as we walked along when out of the middle of the campsite came the camping family from Tucks Bay all strutting down to the beach carrying the now inflated dingy from the pile of debris. Before my mind wandered I stopped my imagination running away with a story fitting for what we had seen. You of course are welcome to try and join the dots, I was just too far off beam last time!Tuck's Bay

Back at Orchard Cottage we sit on the deck for the last time this evening, enjoying a beer and a wine or two. The Tui bird, with it’s haunting call, lands in the white flowered bush at the end of the deck to catch insects as it does every evening as the sun goes down. We’ve had five brilliant days at Coromandel Town, tomorrow we drive South 400km to Napier. We might consider sorting the sat nav out on the way. Who knows?