The drive from Coromandel Township to Whitianga isn’t too far – barely 40km by highway. But highways aren’t always the best way to see the scenery. That requires a bit more off-roading – and it actually is a short cut, only 33 kms. On mostly gravel roads. Which in actuality takes nearly an hour of driving. The road less travelled is the 309 Road – it gets the name because it has 309 corners. So much for a short cut!
Realistically, the weather for most of the drive was pretty unimpressive once again, clouding the mountains and the trees in dreary grey. I scrapped plans again for another peak hike – this time Castle Rock, a 2 hour ascent. I did make a stop and hike for the Kauri grove in the forest area – one of the better ones I’ve seen and shows off the size of the trees compared to surrounding vegetation/trees.
I gave the largest tree in the grove the obligatory love, then continued on the 309 for the rest of the way. The road WAS very windy and interesting, but nothing exactly photo worthy otherwise. And I had two hands on the wheel, I did want to get back to paved road and civilization in one piece!
Arriving into Whitianga was like a breath of fresh air compared to Coromandel. Where Coromandel was dreary and really, quite dead, Whitianga felt bright, clean and fresh. It also helped that the sun came out once again. The hostel I’m staying at is called ‘On the Beach Backpackers’…and it’s indeed right on the beach as promised. And as a bonus, they allow free use of sea kayaks!
And off to the sea the kayak and I went. And the more astute may notice, the kayak had a second seat – Tania, a young woman from Germany took the front spot.
She was planning on the same route and stays as I, so I offered her a spot in my station wagon to travel with me for the next couple of days instead of going by bus everywhere (buses are just once a day in this area). It was nice to have some company out on the water, the kayaking was quite difficult due to the high winds. The waves weren’t too bad at least. We got about 1km out and decided to turn back. Paddling to South America just sounded a bit far.
That, plus the dark clouds from Coromandel had decided to follow me to this side of the peninsula and looked quite threatening while out on the water. After paddling back and letting the hostel know that I had survived and to call off the search and rescue plane, I made a grocery shopping trip in town. And came across something I think you can find in New Zealand.