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Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand – Day 1

March 9, 2023

We took off early this morning for our last stop, the Coromandel peninsula. It has been ravaged by storms in the last several weeks, but it looked like our area was largely undamaged and accessible, so off we went. 

About 45 minutes into the drive my GPS suddenly told us to turn around. it took a bit to figure out why. Turned out there was another landslide on the Coromandel which now made us take another route, one that added an hour to our drive. We teased Josh because it was his leg to drive and though he drove for 2.5 hours, we were only one hour from where we started.

Driving the coromandel peninsula
Driver rotation stop on the Coromandel

We saw signs stating “Report wallabies” for the second time.

As we got closer to the peninsula Theresa got behind the wheel. She took us up and around all of the treacherous hills and curves, driving past many fresh landslides that had been pushed off the road. I gripped the door handle in fear as the white line went from being horizontal to vertical as the road dropped straight off in a couple of places. 

We noticed the power lines were standard wooden poles all the way on the beach, some in the water. No wonder they lost power during the storm. They looked like toothpicks that could easily snap under any the slightest force.

Amazingly, we made it to Hahei in one piece.

After moving into our last rental, we found Cathedral Cove closed. The recent weather knocked out the walking path there. Instead we drove down to Hot Water beach.

Hot Water Beach

Hot water beach
Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach is quite an anomaly as far as beaches go. It sits on a fissure, so hot steam comes right up through the sand on the beach. At low tide, many people dig holes that fill with hot water, and lounge next to the ocean’s crashing waves.

We brought a shovel from our rental unit and Josh and Theresa began digging. We weren’t really getting anywhere because the tide was coming in, constantly filling the freshly dug holes, so I just stood on the hot sections of sand. In some areas, the sand and water were so hot they burned your feet.

Even though we didn’t have a nice hot pool to sit in, we enjoyed the novelty of the experience. Very unique!

Is this what the gold rush was like?

Josh went swimming but I stayed out. The waves were quite big and coming in with 3-4 layers of waves at a time. A group of surfers had a hay day on the south side of the beach.

We stopped by the grocery on the way back, picking up brats for the grill (rather, “barbecue”). We ate outside and talked about how lucky we had gotten with the weather our entire trip. It only rained twice and neither made us change our plans. For all the bad weather NZ had prior to our arrival, we felt quite fortunate.

We can’t help but worry though, if we will be able to get off the peninsula when we need to leave for the airport. Tomorrow rain is expected, and the 12 or so fresh landslides were in our minds.

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