The scenic Coromandel Peninsula
Today we headed out to the Coromandel Peninsula – one of the North island’s most ruggedly beautiful regions. This narrow projection of land is dominated by the steep peaks of the Coromandel Range. These 900m high hills are covered in temperate rainforest and lush green grass, and plunge all the way to the ocean, creating vistas like this…
The Coromandel is one of the New Zealand’s best hiking destinations, though we didn’t get to do any hiking today unfortunately. The weather was well and truly against us. We woke this morning to grey skies, 50 km/hour winds and showers; as the day went on conditions did not improve much. We still got to enjoy the sandy beaches and native bush between periodic bursts of rain however.
The drive from Auckland to the Coromandel Peninsula is only about 150km long, but, between the windiness of the roads and lots of photos stops, it took us the better part of the day to get there.
Traffic en route was unbearable – there were literally ones of cars on the roads….
Exploring the area we came across one picture-perfect scene after another – if it’s not thick native bush, it’s rolling green hills dotted with cows and shorn sheep*. Totally awesome.
*New Zealand’s economy is still quite agrarian. The primary sector continues to dominate New Zealand’s exports, accounting for 6.5% of GDP in 2013.
We stopped for lunch in Coromandel Town and enjoyed some locally grown veggies, home-made ham and nice, warm hot chocolates. Refuelled and replenished we continued on, across the range, to Whitianga (our home-away-from-home for the next few nights).
Whitianga is one of only half a dozen towns on the Coromandel Peninsula, with most of the town comprising of tourist accommodation, holiday homes owned by wealthy Aucklanders and the occasional hippy* abode. It’s the cutest little town and will make a great base from which we will explore the peninsula over the next few days.
*This area has been popular with “alternative-minded” individuals since the 1970s. A significant portion of the population is made up of people looking to get back to the land and avoid the trappings of modern city living.
For now we’re nice and warm in our little apartment, but hopefully tomorrow the weather will improve and we can head out for some more exploring.