Bay of islands to Coromandel

We found ourselves in a fantastic backpackers in Paihia, with excellent facilities and located close to the seafront, so decided to stay a couple of days to enjoy the sunshine in the Bay of Islands. While there we explored the coastline north of Paihia, and walked along a track through a mangrove forest. While it was fairly short walk, we spent a few hours on and off the trail, stopping regularly to photograph various plants and trees, and as the afternoon turned into evening, the sunset too. We had a picnic before one of the walks, and as we sat quietly on the sunlit grass, with our wholewheat crackers, and our humus, watching the seagulls (watching our food!), we couldn’t have been happier! This was the kind of lunch we had been dreaming of from Hong Kong!
We returned to Auckland via bus, on the day that the weather turned wet with gale-force winds – a perfect day for a 4 hour bus journey. We overnighted in Auckland and took an early morning ferry to the Coromandel peninsula. We discovered en route that the ferry company had been thinking of canceling the ferry due to the rough seas, but by the time they told us this it was too late to get off the ferry! It started out pleasantly enough, as we motored though Auckland’s sheltered harbour area, but once we hit open seas, the boat was tossed around like a cork. The moment it got rough I went outside, knowing the fresh air would delay the inevitable nauseau, and just as well too, as I was minutes from being sick when we finally docked. Some other passengers didn’t fare so well though, and one girl collapsed on her way to the exit to get fresh air. The downside of being outside in such seas was that several times a big wave washed across the deck of the boat. The first time I got soaked from head to toe, but the next few times I managed to dodge it! Daniel meanwhile was inside the boat, calmly videoing the seas, and the waves hitting the window. He told me afterwards that he had taken a seasickness tablet … Hmmn, so much for sharing!
It was raining hard when we landed in Coromandel, and we could see flooding on the roadside fields – not a good start for a camping trip! We walked to a caravan park and told the incredulous owner that we wanted to camp. We had already worked out that if we camped, we could save enough to go to a cafe, so the incentive was strong! As luck would have it, it turned into a warm and sunny afternoon so we borrowed bikes from the campground and cycled along the coast. There are several hilly islands offshore here, and rugged forested hills in the interior of the peninsula, plus plenty of pretty bays, so there were stunning views everytime we rounded a bend in the road. We only saw a fraction of the coast yesterday afternoon, so decided to stay another day, and do more exploring today. This morning we again cycled the coast and along the way had a little accident. Daniel has been commenting that people drive on the wrong side of the road here in NZ (the left) and found that the bike brakes were also the wrong way around. When he braked suddenly this morning he hit the wrong side, accidentally hitting the front brakes, and flipped head over heels. He was up like a shot, so initially I thought there was no damage done apart from a few cuts and some bruising, but it seems he has hurt his shoulder, so hiking with the pack could be interesting ….
This afternoon we spent gathering information for the week ahead. We will be walking North tomorrow, and expect to be out of towns for 7 to 9 days. We will be walking along the NW, N and NE coastline, camping along the way. We have our food supplies, our water filter, our topographical map, our toilet paper and our ‘stool tool’, so we are good to go! It is just the two of us for now as Ann is back in Auckland, and we have some planning to do to figure out how our paths can cross again in the coming weeks. Daniel and I are both excited to finally be heading out into the bush ‘proper’ for an extended time and are looking forward to the fatigue that comes with walking for several days in a row, as well as the peace and quiet we hope to find up there. Next update to follow next week!

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