NEW ZEALAND ROAD TRIP DAY 23&24: Tauranga – Cathedral Cove – Coromandel

OUR LAST ROAD TRIP MISSION - VISITING CATHEDRAL COVE - THINGS OFTEN TURN OUT DIFFERENTLY THAN YOU EXPECT

Our trip further up North from Tauranga to Auckland with some planned sightseeing stops to explore Cathedral Cove and Coromandel did not exactly go as planned and yet, still worked out perfectly. Guess good things really come to those who wait and are patient! 🙂

Although our itinerary actually didn’t allow for the little detour to New Zealand's "Bay of Plenty" (not to mention to also stay here overnight) we were still super happy that we squeezed it in. We had such a great day exploring Tauranga and climbing Mount Maunganui and would have missed out big time if we had not come here.

Panoramic shot from Mount Maunganui overlooking Bay of Plenty

However, this also meant that we had BIG plans for the day ahead starting with visiting famous Cathedral Cove, then a quick stop at the relaxing habour town of Coromandel http://www.coromandeltown.co.nz/ and then driving all the way from Coromondel to Auckland. We are talking 6 hours of driving straight without any stopping.

As usual if we end up actually making a plan it’s meant to fail...BIG TIME.

First, we overslept! We wanted to leave our Campground in Mount Maunganui as early as possible but after all the exercise from the previous day our body had a different agenda - REST! 😊

Once we finally managed to get up and shuffle some breakfast in we had to sort out some urgent trouble with our AirBnB which we had booked for our remaining 3 days in Auckland. Although "technically" confirmed, the host never bothered to reply to any of our messages regarding address, where to pick-up our keys etc. so we had to phone AirBnB to sort out the issue.

CLOCK IS TICKING - CHANGE OF PLANS

The whole process of us phoning AirBnB, them trying to phone the host, the host not replying to anyone, AirBnB phoning us to say we should look for alternative accommodation, us looking for alternative accommodation, us realising everything was basically out of our price range, us freaking out, us deciding to check with the rental company to extend our van for one more night, us looking for a new place for only 2 nights in Auckland, finally finding something, us informing AirBnB to cancel our previous booking free of charge and us confirming and anxiously waiting for a message from our new host, us eventually receiving the awaited message from our new host saying that everything was in order and FINALLY HAVING SORTED THIS ALL OUT took quite some time...until to 2 pm to be precise!!!!!!!! 😊 So much for our BIG PLANS... 😊

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Luckily by extending our van for one more night we did not only reduce our steep overnight fees for Auckland but it also gave us a bit more time to get to Auckland – what a relief! We would have never been able squeeze everything we had planned in the few hours of daylight we had left and still arrive before midnight in Auckland. NO CHANCE!

Also, we were not yet ready to return our 4 wheel home and were very happy about any extra day we could spend with our beloved Ninja Turtle Van. 😊

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER - CATHEDRAL COVE HERE WE COME!

So super chillaxed and with no rush we finally left Tauranga and headed to Cathedral Cove. We got to the Car Park at around 5pm. Now, if Cathedral Cove was RIGHT THERE than we could have at least crossed ONE THING off our “things-to-still-see”-list. However, turns out it’s a 40min walk TO Cathedral Cove from the Car Park plus a 40 min walk back! (Argh, why do we never research these kinda sthings before?????)

The sun would go down soon and with no lights along the walkway and no torch with us we did not see us heading through the bush in the darkness. Besides the fact that I probably would have freaked out COMPLETELY (I mean, god knows what creatures are living here!!!) there is also no point in going to see something if you actually can’t see it. Right? RIGHT!

So we decided to find a place to stay overnight and come back in the morning to do the walk. Luckily it turned out that the freedom camping spot was closer than we thought...it was the CATHEDRAL COVE CAR PARK! 😊 So we basically had already arrive to our home for the night. Brilliant! (Good to know that not having researched everything prior actually leaves you with nice surprises from time to time!)

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US, THE EARLY BIRD AND CATHEDRAL COVE

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The next morning our co-operation between us and the early bird worked much better! 🙂 With a muesli bar in hand we were ready for our early morning walk! Most campers were still sleeping and no tourist busses in sight (yet!) so we were actually one of the first ones heading down to Cathedral Cove. YEA US!

It’s not the most relaxed walk ever as it goes up and down quite a lot but with the fresh morning breeze and the sun just about to rise it was a great feeling and perfect start to the day.

The highlight of course was finally getting to Cathedral Cove and having the beach almost to ourselves. Considering that during the day it’s usually packed with big groups of tourists (most of them arriving by boat – cheaters!! 😊) we actually couldn’t have timed it any better.

Guess all the trouble from the day before led to being too late to visit Cathedral Cove the day before was actually good for something. 🙂

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Stunning Cathedral Cove before the tourist crowds arrive

We spend quite a while down here, walking along the beach, saying after every step how absolutely beautiful it is and taking tons of pictures including of course our attempts in striking the “perfect-Cathedral-Cove-Photo-Pose” 😊

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Berit, Martin and Cathedral Cove 🙂

Soon more and more tourists arrived and we decided it was time to make our way back to the car park. Also we were starting to feel hungry, a little muesli bar is just not enough! 🙂

When we returned to our car we couldn’t believe our eyes – there was a coffee truck parked right next to our van and it smelled like fresh coffee and muffins! How cool was that?? Our prayers had been answered! 😊

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Freedom camping Cathedral Cove - Where the coffee comes to you!

So we got us a still warm and fluffy white chocolate – strawberry muffin and some coffee for the road and were ready for our next adventure: THE HOT WATER BEACH!

SPA BREAK AT THE HOT WATER BEACH

The popular Hot Water Beach, another Coromandel highlight, is just a short 10-15 minute drive from Cathedral cove so these two can easily be combined.

Visiting the hot water beach, a long stretch of white sandy beach located between Tairua and Whitianga, is definitely a must-do activity when you find yourself in the Coromandel area.

The reason why it’s no ordinary beach is that an underground river of hot water flows from the interior of the earth to surface in the Pacific Ocean right at Hot Water Beach allowing you to dig yourself a nice little spa pool which soon will be filled up with nice and warm water. Again, HOW COOL (or, ehm...hot) IS THAT??

But make sure to plan accordingly if you want to experience the hot springs as they are only accessible at low tide. However, more often than not two hours each side of low tide will still provide you with an opportunity to dig your own pool. You can hire spade at a local store.

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Our timing was perfect and yet...not. Reason was that we had picked a weekend in the middle of Easter Holidays leading to hundreds of couples and families flocking to the beach on this sunny Saturday morning that it rather looked like a Las Vegas pool party down there than a nice relaxing spa experience.

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Get your spade out and dig yourself a bath tub

However, if we had more time we definitely would have joined the party folks, it did look like so much fun and the ocean views were simply amazing. But the clock was ticking and we still had a long way to go to Auckland.

COROMANDEL TOWN - LUNCH STOP

From the hot water beach we took the scenic road to Coromandel town which offers some stunning panoramic views along the way.

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Coromandel town also had its beginnings during the time of the gold rush with a gold strike in the late 1860s leading to a sudden increase in population to 10.000 inhabitants.

Even today the town by the harbour is still full of history and known for its charming mix of natural beauty of forests and beaches and Victorian architecture.

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Time for a pie 🙂

Although it looked like it would start raining any second, we decided to stop here for some lunch and a little walk through this charming town before continuing our journey to Auckland.

Heading towards Auckland - it’s not the end YET! 😊

If you continue on highway 25 from Coromandel to Thames you are in for another treat! It’s a beautiful road right next to the ocean - you can’t drive fast here but you sure have a lot to see.

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Highway 25 aka Thames Coast Road

We stopped here for some final pics with our beloved Ninja-Turtle-Van which we soon would had to say good-bye to. ☹ It was an epic trip - probably the best road trip we had ever done and we felt pretty emotional that we were getting close to the end.

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One last foto session 🙁

We arrived at our AirBnB in Auckland in the early evening when it was just getting dark. What a day! Cathedral Cove, Hot Water Beach, Coromandel and tons of lookouts and scenic views...We really had made the most of our final day on the road.

Tomorrow would be a sad day when our 1 month road trip would officially come to a close ☹


Next Day:DAY 25&26 - AUCKLAND

Previous Day: DAY 22 - Tauranga & Mount Maunganui

Start at the beginning: DAY ONE - Christchurch to Akaroa


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