What a day we had today!
Last night’s wind and rain continued this morning and it’s clear that our spell of good weather is over. We ate breakfast and packed away a wet tent in the only dry spell, and hit the road before 8. A long, hilly 11ks of gravel road to Port Charles awaited us (the least fun kind of walking!), and from there we weren’t sure where we could get to. Ideally we wanted to reach Coromandel but felt Colville or Waikawau beach camp were more achievable, although still a lot further than we wanted to walk that day. We decided to hitch and accept a lift to wherever any passing car might be going! With the prospect of a long and uncertain day ahead of us, the ceaseless rain dampened our spirits as much as our gear! After every climb in the road we had a snack, and by 10am were eating that day’s lunch despite the pouring rain and lack of shelter. We hadn’t seen a single car all morning, and all the houses we passed seemed to be summer residences, so our prospects for hitching looked grim. A few ks on from Port Charles we saw a sign for a cafe that we had heard about – attached to a luxury eco lodge – that we thought would be closed. But it seemed open, so we decided to have a coffee and dry off and warm-up inside, before returning to face the punishing 20k road walk to the nearest campsite. And what a good decision that was!
- The coffee was amazing – as good as we’ve had in NZ.
- There was a fire burning, so it was warm and cosy
- We spied cake and treated ourselves to a slice of carrot cake, and chocolate and mascarpone cake. After days of camping food, the cake completely sated our craving for something sweet.
- When she heard where we had walked from, the manager offered us a spa (for free!), and gave us the key to one of the outdoor tubs deep in the bush. As we sank into that hot water, in the pouring rain and surrounded by trees and birds, all our troubles from the morning were forgotten. We spent an age in the water, really warming ourselves to the core, and thanking our lucky stars for such kindness.
When we emerged from the cafe and hit the road, the rain had stopped and we felt ready to walk any distance. But after 1k, a car came upon us suddenly and we hastily stuck out our thumb to hitch. He drove on, but a few minutes later reversed back down the road and offered us a lift … all the way to Coromandel, 50ks South! We had a very pleasant drive in the company of an Auckland doctor, who took the scenic road to show us the best views, and stopped at a beach that he thought we would like. He had been to Ireland and Quebec, and had just returned from Zurich, so we had plenty to talk about. Once in Coromandel, we checked into a backpackers and luxuriated in the hot showers, a bedroom to dry our stuff and a kitchen to cook in! Life is better than ever!