Weather Bombed

Trip Start Nov 01, 2011
Trip End Apr 12, 2013

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Flag of New Zealand  , Auckland,
Friday, March 2, 2012

From the Waipoua forest in the West of Northland we made the journey to meet Aaron, our next couchsurfing host. He lived in a place called Thames at the beginning of the Coromandel Peninsula, an area of dramatic mountains fringed by dozens of windswept beaches and bays.

Along the way we shared a strange moment as we drove passed the site of our dismal breakdown, and had a laugh picturing what we must have looked like picnicking at the side of the road beside our smoking car! Luckily, we suffered no such problems this time round, and we passed through Auckland swiftly and made good time to get to the Coromandel. We met Aaron shortly after he finished work on Friday evening. It turned out he only worked weekdays, so he had arranged for us to stay with him in his parent's caravan in a small beachfront community called Matarangi, which is nestled more centrally in the peninsula.

We made a brief stop for dinner ingredients in the supermarket and made our way in Aaron’s car towards Matarangi. We were immediately impressed by the rugged beauty of the area, particularly as we crawled over the top of a commanding mountain range, stopping quickly for a panoramic view of the area while drinking in the excellent scenery.

Aaron informed us we’d have another guest that night, a Swiss guy called Ramon who had stayed with him the previous night. Good news, another new encounter to enjoy!

We arrived at the caravan shortly after sundown, where Ramon was waiting for us after a day of boosting around the Coromandel on his resplendent motorbike. It’s safe to say he looked far more professional than us, and we were glad we didn’t have Frank with us to compare to the splendour of his bike!

Although the sun had gone down, we still powered on with our dinner plans, a meaty barbecue feast. Some nicely blackened steak went down an absolute treat, especially when accompanied with a perfectly chilled beer and some great company. A good way to start our Coromandel experience for sure!

We had a quiet night in the caravan, getting to know each other and exchanging various travel stories. It’s amazing how hungry for travelling we still feel, every destination someone mentions that we’ve not been to get us talking excitedly! We rediscovered a childhood classic which I for one had totally forgotten about; Pass the Pigs! Such a ridiculously simple but infuriatingly competitive game!

Our sleep was far from peaceful that night, as we experienced what had been forewarned as a 'weather bomb’. Basically that night certain parts of the country experienced a short burst of extremely heightened wind, and we were right in the path. No worries really, if we were in a house! Abi and I were sleeping in the caravan awning though, and it’s square shape was horribly suited to combat the fierce barrage of wind which attacked us all through the night. A woeful night’s sleep was had!

The next morning the weather bomb was still in effect, with powerful wind gusting everywhere, but we pressed on with our explorations regardless. Aaron took us on a great little tour of the nearby area, and we were able to check out some bays which are well off the tourist route. We undertook a magnificent coastal walk, arriving on a deserted beach and traversing some farmland to reach an exposed hillock in the middle of two beaches. Ordinarily it would have been an ideal place to spend a while, but the wind was battering us, and encouraged us to make a hasty return journey. Us lads weren’t about to let the weather stop our fun completely though, and we dived into the chilly sea for a swim anyway. It was certainly a shock after the inviting temperatures of Asian waters, but it was totally refreshing and a great laugh. Abi chickened out of course, and sat on the beach laughing at us the whole time!

Ramon departed later that day, to head further South, and we didn’t get up to a whole lot as the weather bomb continued to linger on like an uninvited guest at a party. Aaron had toured the South Island previously, and spent a long time going through our plans with us, suggesting other places to visit and generally being of great help. He ended up giving us his NZ Road Atlas as he is due to embark on travels of his own fairly soon. It’s an amazing gift which we’ve been making use of ever since, and a great money saver.

The next day the weather was far better, and we made the short trip to a remarkable place called Hot Water Beach. It does precisely what it says on the tin; due to thermal activity heating up rocks below the sand, you can dig holes in the sand and let them fill up with hot water, creating your very own spa in the sand! It’s tremendous, but an extremely busy place, so we were lucky to find a spot to build our hot bath in. After a blissful time spent there we had to get moving, as Abi and I were heading further South to the town of Rotorua that afternoon.

Aaron took us back to Thames to pick up Frank, and we squeezed in a little time to have some lip-smackingly fresh fish and chips for lunch by the sea. We bid Aaron good luck on his epic voyage, where he’ll be visiting far flung places like Mongolia and travelling the Trans-Siberian Express right through Russia, and said goodbye to another new friend acquired in New Zealand. It’s a pity we didn’t have more time to spend in the area. With some better weather we know it would be a real pearl of a place, but time was pressing as usual, and we enjoyed it nonetheless.
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