Sunday 7 August 2016 was a beautiful day, especially as it was mid-winter. This trip to Coromandel was originally planned for the previous day, but as the weather forecast looked much better for Sunday than Saturday, we opted for the Sunday, which was a wonderful move.
We had blue skies with the occasional wispy white clouds during the day. It certainly felt more like mid to late spring than winter. I collected 11 passengers (2 Colombians, 4 Thais, 2 Japanese and 3 Koreans) from a variety of locations around central Auckland and drove the 2 hours 30 minutes to Cathedral Cove carpark.
We had a picnic lunch at the grass area near the carpark, while taking in the breath-taking views, and then walked the 35 to 40-minute track to the Cove.
The Cove is always a stunning sight, with white sand, blue sea, rocks shaped by the sea and the archway which was made famous in the first 2 Narnia movies.
Being the off-season, there were a few people there but not the big crowds usually seen in summer. We took our time on the walk back to the carpark, enjoying the forest around us and the views over the sea and islands.
Hot Water Beach is only a 15-minute drive from Cathedral Cove. When we got there, we made our way to the middle of the beach and excavated our hot water pool. Our first attempt was not a success because the water in that place was boiling so we found another spot where the water was a better temperature.
The window for hot water is usually about 2 hours each side of low tide. A couple of us were brave enough to have a swim in the sea and then returned to our hot pool to warm up, then we got changed into warm clothes and drove to Tairua.
We finished our outdoor activities at Paku Hill, Tairua which has spectacular views from the top. Some of the group took photos, while others talked to friends and family back home, showing them the scenery via Skype or similar apps. We left the top of the hill as the sun was setting, and went in search of food.
We had a thoroughly enjoyable dinner at Manaia Kitchen & Bar in Tairua, a restaurant I will definitely be returning on future tours to Coromandel.
We stopped briefly for stargazing on the journey back to Auckland. It was a dark night so the Milky Way and all the other stars and planets really stood out. We returned to Auckland and the passengers were dropped off between 9pm and 9.30pm, depending on where their accommodation was.