Starting Point: Piha
Ending Point: Coromandel Town
Kilometers traveled: 201
Today started out with early morning fireworks at 5:30, courtesy of the partying surf club, who apparently stayed up all night getting an early start on Guy Fawkes celebrations. The fireworks were beautiful though. Because of that and really high loud winds that were rocking our camper, we got up at dawn and went for a walk on the black beach at Piha and watched the sun come up. Then we climbed Lion Rock, which is a sacred place to the Te Kawerau a Maki people, whose ancestors lived on its lower slopes. It gave us an amazing view of the beaches on either side as well as the hillsides of Piha. Piha is known for its black beaches, which are black because they have a very high iron content. They are also known for having an excellent surf break here, although it also has horrible rips. Many world surfing competitions are held here and the town has a laid back beachy surfer vibe to it, which we always enjoy.
After our sunrise hike, we headed back to the Spaceship to gather up provisions and then over to the kitchen to make some breakfast. And that is where a comedy of errors ensued. First the instant water heater was broken and leaked all over, then we melted a hot spot into one of our plastic plates while cooking bacon in the microwave. Kathy was up next, knocking over a mug of hot chocolate, spilling that across the counter, and then she spilled a bunch of the hot chocolate mix as well, turning Kyle’s toast into chocolate toast. And then the boiled eggs for lunch exploded while cooking, making a lovely egg drop soup. At that point, we decided that perhaps we shouldn’t cook anything further. So we ate what we had: toast, over easy eggs, bacon, and hot chocolate. It was delicious and we laughed A LOT!
Then it was back to the beaches for more hiking, playing in the tide pools, and walking around the rocky point towards a place called The Gap. But the tide was coming in by now, so we had to turn back while we could still get through. By this time the sun had decided to come out from behind the clouds and the views and colors were fantastic. But the wind was still up and we were cold and exhausted, so we headed back, packed it up, and headed for the Coromandel Peninsula on the other side of the North Island.
On our way out of Piha, we came across a large black dog carrying off a full size garbage bag of trash from the side of the road. We stopped so we wouldn’t hit her, and when she realized we saw her, she looked sheepish, dropped the bag in the middle of the opposing lane, and guiltily slinked away. We could not stop laughing. (G, she looked JUST like Sadie.)
The Coromandel Peninsula was a place that we had originally decided (as recently as several days ago) was someplace we would have to skip, in order to give more time for important stops like Hobbiton. But it turns out that New Zealand is actually quite small, especially by Southwestern US standards, so we were ahead of schedule as of yesterday. And kilometers tick off much faster than miles do. So yesterday we decided that the Coromandel Peninsula was back on the itinerary and we are so glad it is. We drove up the peninsula from Thames to Coromandel Town this afternoon and the views were spectacular. The road is a winding 2 lane highway right along the water’s edge…quite literally.
We got to Coromandel Town and pulled into the Top Ten Campground here and to our gleeful delight, they have a JUMPING PILLOW! So we spent the afternoon jumping and goofing off on it, after a lunch of fish and chips from the local takeaway place. Really tasty! After all that jumping we were exhausted, so we curled up in the Spaceship and watched Castaway, which we have been meaning to watch ever since we visited the island where it was filmed when we were in Fiji. And yes, there was a LOT of critiquing of the film angles they chose in order to make it look like there are no other islands close by. But the movie holds up well and the views are dead on to what we experienced when we were there (other than the missing neighbor island).
Tonight we are tucked in drinking a bit of red wine with cheese, crackers, and salami. And tomorrow we will continue our misadventures in the Coromandel, hopefully ending up at Hot Water Beach, where we very well might dig ourselves our own hot tub in the sand.