LetsGoWander.World | New Zealand: From the Coromandel Peninsula to Rotorua

New Zealand: From the Coromandel Peninsula to Rotorua

December 01, 2017  •  2 Comments

Check out our first video of our tour around the Coromandel Peninsula

Check out our first video of our tour around the Coromandel Peninsula

The other day, we were walking our fully-loaded bikes through the town of Tairua, passing time until check-in time for our accommodations.  A woman and her husband passed us walking in the other direction and I heard her mutter under her breath, "That's not my idea of how to spend my holiday."  I smiled to myself hearing her comment.  I would imagine a lot of people feel that way - even a lot of you reading this now.  I guess it's not really my idea of how to spend a vacation either... but I don't really look at these trips as vacations (or "holidays" in the Kiwi vernacular).  After all, they are a lot of work in terms of both logistics and physical activity.  But the pay-off is that we get to see areas of a country that we wouldn't normally see while zipping by in a camper van, we stay places that are definitively "off the beaten path" and we meet people that we wouldn't meet otherwise.  I would say that we get a much better sense of a place than the average tourist does.

Coromandel Peninsula

Waiau FallsWaiau Falls

We stopped at Waiau Falls on our way from Coromandel Town to Whitianga

We recently completed the first part of the trip riding around the Coromandel peninsula, which is located east of Auckland.  The peninsula is beautiful - with stunning beaches, lush forests, and lively beach towns.  On the road from Thames to Coromandel TownOn the road from Thames to Coromandel Town

On the road from Thames to Coromandel Town

The area is a popular weekend destination for Aucklanders, so the roads can be quite busy on Friday afternoons and Sunday afternoons.  Wherever possible, we stayed off the main roads and took quieter side roads instead.  

Hahei BeachHahei Beach

We took a side trip to Hahei Beach

One instance was a side trip we took to Hahei Beach which was well worth the extra distance.  We considered riding to Hot Water Beach as well, where you can dig a hole in the sand at low tide which will fill with warm water to sit in.  But on further consideration, we decided that maybe sitting in a sandy hole and then get back on our bikes to ride wasn't such a good idea.

Lunch with a view of the Pacific near Hot Water BeachLunch with a view of the Pacific near Hot Water Beach

Lunch with a view of the Pacific near Hot Water Beach

In the town of Whangamata, we stayed at a wonderful bed and breakfast run by Kevan and Yvonne who were great hosts - more like staying with family.  Each evening as we returned from dinner they offered a glass of wine with great conversation.  It was definitely a highlight for us.  

Barry with our hosts Yvonne and KevanBarry with our hosts Yvonne and Kevan

Barry with our hosts Yvonne and Kevan

They also turned us on to eating out at the local RSA (Returned and Services' Association) which is like the VFW in the US, but with a nicer atmosphere.  The RSA in Whagamata had a good menu, including European and Thai dishes, and also offered good local flavor which was a nice change from restaurants geared towards tourists.  We decided to make an effort to seek out RSA's in other towns during our trip.

Rotorua

Lake TikitapuOverlooking Lake Tikitapu

Overlooking Lake Tikitapu

Since leaving the Coromandel Peninsula, we skirted around the city of Tauranga and headed inland to Rotorua.  Rotorua is located right in the heart of the north island on the edge of a large lake and sits on a large caldera which generates lots of thermal activity in the area like hot springs, bubbling mud pools, and geysers.  

Hamurana ParkHamurana Park

Hamurana Park near Rotorua

The city is mostly known for its tourism and offers tons of activities in the area.  We decided to stay in Rotorua for 3 days in order to enjoy the area and rest up some.

Waikite Thermal SpringsWaikite Thermal Springs

Waikite Thermal Springs

On one of the days, we took a full day tour with a local guide which ended up being a private tour since it's still early in the season.  Our guide, Steve, offered us lots of information on the thermal activity in the area as well as the local flora and fauna. 

Mud pools at WaiotapuMud pools at Waiotapu

Mud pools at Waiotapu

We finished up the day with a visit to a natural stream and swimming hole heated by a thermal spring, and then a visit to a more traditional hot springs with the different pools of varying temperatures.

Megan at Kerosene Creek hot springsMegan at Kerosene Creek hot springs

Megan at Kerosene Creek hot springs

Hills, Hills and More Hills

Every day of riding here involves hills, some of them quite steep.  In comparison to riding in the mountains of Colorado, New Zealand's hills are generally shorter but quite a bit steeper.  On Colorado roads, you rarely see anything over an 8% grade whereas in New Zealand we have ridden on grades up to 16% so far which makes 8% seem almost easy.  

Riding on a quiet country road on the Coromandel PeninsulaRiding on a quiet country road on the Coromandel Peninsula

Riding on a quiet country road on the Coromandel Peninsula

We started out the trip being a bit ambitious with our daily mileage.  We should have known better than that.  Last year, we took the first two weeks riding shorter distances than our eventual average in order to "ease" into things.  So, we made some adjustments to our route to shorten up our rides and this has made things much better.  Of course, the hills get even bigger as we get further south (yay!).

We are working on our routes and accommodations for the upcoming days, but tomorrow we hit the road again.

 


Comments

Dad(non-registered)
Well some would not like to be doing what you are doing. Me I would love to be on your trip. I think it is something you will remember for the rest of your life!!
Rebe Fawcett(non-registered)
It appears that most of your "scenery" involves Barry's butt during these trips. :-) Do you miss having Cisco with you this round?
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