17 January 20
Posted at 9:02
Colville is about 30km up the peninsular from Coromandel Town. A windy, hilly route with awesome views of the coast, some enchanting bays each with few dwellings, boats and some fishing gear. Dwellings become more spaced out the further North you travel, Hereford cattle become more plentiful and the scenery more dramatic. There is an occasional camp site. Colville welcomes the visitor with an array of little buildings on each side of the street. The centre piece being Coliville General Store with its red tin roof with an array of signs and blackboards proclaiming everything from who has recently passed away, thanking the fire service for dealing with recent bush fires and so on. Most importantly proclaiming that this is the last stop for provisions and they sell everything.
An eclectic mix of people populates the area around Colville, and beyond.
There are numerous alternative lifestyle communes, all spiritual in some way or other but other than a Buddhist retreat most not specifically religion based. There is plenty of space for them to be able to be private but at the same time close to others in their respective communes. Artists are plentiful, self -sufficiency a goal. Coromandel General store exists to supplement the essentials required for near self-sufficiency.
Then there are three Maori tribes who do not get along with each other at all and there are the ‘red neck’ farmers who raise superb Hereford beef cattle. I guess they don’t hit if off with many of the ‘alternatives.
What I find intriguing is how teachers cope with the offspring of this diverse mix. The secondary school in Coromandel (over 60kms away for many) is the only senior education service available to the top end of the peninsular. I bet classes are fun and break times even more so.
Next to the general store is the post office, a quaint tin shack dominated by a mass of safety deposit looking mailboxes. It stands to reason that the postie could not possibly traipse round this massive rural, often road less area. I wonder how Amazon survive? You may laugh but we met a German lady who has lived here in a commune for over thirty years. She recently got permission from her commune buddies to take in guests through Air BnB. Is there nowhere the gig economy has not reached?
Outside the general store we met another German (pure coincidence I’m sure). He was a Catweasel doppelganger, wearing a kind of cloth balaclava and thermal top and sporting a heavily laden bicycle notable by the sheer weight it was carrying and the enormous bunch of wild flowers on the handlebars. Catweasel was so thin he would add little to the weight when he mounted. He told us he had been cycling around for two years and had clocked up over thirty thousand kilometres. The only giveaway that he was not straight out of the nineteenth century was his iPhone. We, not Catweasel were the ones out of place in Colville.
The beautiful landscape, the micro climate and the general unspoilt environment make it clear why folk like to escape the rat race and settle in a place like the top of the Coromandel peninsular. No sure they could survive without customers for their artwork, AirBnB oh and of course, their iPhones.