Auckland and the Coromandel

Trip Start Aug 11, 2010
Trip End May 21, 2011

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Tuesday, October 26, 2010

After a 13hour flight which resulted in Eleanor unluckily getting a cold from her over-talkative next-door neighbour, who seemed bent on interrupting 'Toy Story 3' repeatedly, and us losing a day of our lives due to time zone differences, we finally landed in Auckland, New Zealand’s North Island. We were lucky enough to be the guests of an ex work colleague called Fraser and his fiancée, Megan. They were both extremely generous and welcoming. It was great for us to finally be able to relax in a house too as we had been a bit homesick recently- just missing the little things. Watching TV that night, with two great people and a Chinese take-away was exactly what we needed.

On our first day in Auckland, we were determined to make up for the day we lost so packed alot in. We visited the fascinating Auckland museum where we learnt about Maori culture, natural disasters that NZ has endured and NZ’s involvement in different 20th Century wars. We watched a Maori cultural show here too which was very interesting. We also viewed the city’s landscapes from high above in the Sky Tower allowing perfectly clear views of the nearby harbours.

The next day we did as the Aucklanders do and ran along the beach front; the only difference being that I didn’t see many locals running in sandals and socks! Meghan kindly let us use her car too so we were able to explore around Auckland and visited the 19th Century settlement of Devonport that afforded lovely harbour views, and we drove to the west coast to Piha beach where the sand is black and sparkles in the sun.

We worked out that the best way to explore the country was by hiring a campervan, so after picking it up, we immediately set it to work by leaving Auckland and heading east to the Coromandel Peninsula. The Coromandel has a large stretch of beautiful beaches with powdery sand and clear blue-green sea. We walked down to beach called ‘Cathedral Cove’ where rocks look like the spire of a, well, cathedral. The most random experience we had was at a beach called ‘Hot Water Beach’ where thermal springs fed into our dug out holes in the sand. The channel kept changing so just as we got into a comfortable place with a steady temperature, suddenly it would change and be nearly burning our feet, hands or bums! With no accommodation sourced and the location shared by a friendly local (who let us both use his shower and gave me a beer), we jumped straight into the "freedom camper" spirit and parked up in a remote car park set metres from the beach. In the morning we woke peacefully to the tranquil sounds of crashing waves and birdsong. This was the start of our New Zealand travel.  
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