Rain. It makes things wet.

Hiking plans dashed again. The weather just doesn’t seem to hold much promise some days. That being said, during my 3 hour drive from Auckland to Coromandel, I did figure out an alternative.

My original grand idea was to hike The Pinnacles,Ā a mountain smack dab in the middle of the Coromandel Peninsula.Ā It’s peak gives a commanding view of both sides of the peninsula as well as everything else around. It’s supposed to be a great hike (6-7 hour return), tough but doable. But I knew when I awoke in Auckland that I wouldn’t be doing that climb today – nothing but clouds, rain and mist. I was *not* about to hike yet another peak without getting to see anything from the top! Instead, I opted for a detour to the Karangahake Gorge – and I was glad I did.

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Closing the Loop

I’ve now circled back around to Auckland where I’m staying for the day, doing such exciting activities such as picking up mail and cleaning laundry.

And eating copious amounts of sashimi.

Tomorrow morning I hit the road again – this time heading to a major tourist destination for Aucklanders during their summer vacations – the Coromandel Peninsula:

More hiking awaits me there. I had considered giving camping a shot, but there is apparently another cold front moving through for the next week. I don’t really want to be car camping in 3C…I’ll wait for just a wee bit warmer temps.

Sunday Market

Before I get talking about my adventure to the market today, I’ll play show and tell about my work during my stay here. While I did various odd jobs such as fruit picking (including climbing an avocado tree – something it turns out I’m not overly good at), fire wood collecting/carting, fruit cleaning, cookie bakingĀ and other odds and ends, the majority of my time was spent in here – the raspberry enclosure. This is how it looked before I started:

And after about 3 days of work, the weeds were removed, the ground was cleaned and the raspberry bushes were pruned.

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The weather really plays such a big role in the enjoyment of one’s day. When I went to the north end of Muriwai beach, it felt a cold, desolate place. Part of this was likely due to the weather because when I went 30km further south, to the town of Muriwai, the beach here was spectacular.

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A Deflating Experience

It’s not 100% apparent, but that is my rear passenger tire (or ‘tyre’, as they spell it here in NZ), flat to the ground. ARGH. Found it today after pruning raspberry bushes – it likely had picked something up on my drive to the black sand beach the day prior. Driving on gravel roads is a common occurrence here in New Zealand, it was only a matter of time that this happened. IĀ foundĀ theĀ jack and got to work on putting on my spare tire. Considering I had never had to change a flat in my life, I was quite pleased I succeeded in changing my tire without somehow causing bodily harm to myself or the car!

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The Black Sand Beaches

90 mile beach isn’t the only beach here you can drive on. In fact, there are quite a few, including one near Helensville called Muriwai.

Naturally, I didn’t dare take my car out on the beach – that’s just asking to get stuck using a FWD car. 4x4s only! And even then, when out by myself I certainly wouldn’t tempt fate anyways. So, I stopped at the car park and hiked over the dunes to the beach.

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One Month

So it’s been one month to the day since I arrived here in New Zealand. Thus far, I really haven’t travelled very far – I’ve been up and down the Northland region and Auckland, but have yet to truly get into the main part of the North Island. But you know what? That’s been perfectly fineĀ with me! I’m really enjoying the slower pace style of travelling – being able to settle in for days at a time, see things that most travellers normally would skip right over, experience life at a more relaxed pace and simply be one with the world.

Okay, that last little part was just a joke, I’m far from having an existential experience down here. But still, New Zealand has be a pleasure for 31 days, and I’m looking forward to the remaining 300+ I still have. There are so many more things to see and do while I’m here – White Water raft the largest raft-able waterfall in the world (7m!), multi-day hiking, exploringĀ the glaciers, bungy jumping, swimming with dolphins (I WILL swim with them at some point!), hang gliding, marry a kiwi girl, car camping, rock climbing, surfing, large scale farming, thermal pools, track down a kiwi bird, take in a rugby match…learn the rules of rugby, hit the beach on a warm enough day to lounge around on one, go fishing, and I’m sure much much more. I know some of them probably won’t happen (and I was kidding about marrying a kiwi), but there certainly is a lot I’m looking forward to doing. At a very slow, unplanned pace.

Speaking of unplanned, it both has and hasn’t been a departure for me so far on this trip. I still need to plan in advance WWOOFing host stays – usually 1-2 weeks in advance. But, I’ve been taking the more ‘let others decide my route’ type approach – I’m going where hosts have invited me to stay, rather than emailing specific hosts and asking to help them for a week or so. There have been and will be exceptions (I emailed my host in Kerikeri to stay up north), but 3/4 of my hosts so far have emailed me first. ThatĀ numberĀ includes my next one, quite a bit further away from where I am now, in the area called the Bay of Plenty. I’ve got a week in between my current host and my next one, so I’m going to be returning to doing more touristy things, and possibly trying a 4-6 hour hike or two. And possibly doing a little car camping, if the weather looks good enough. Either way, I hope you have enjoyed following and reading my blog so far and continue to do so! If you have any suggestions, things you’d like to see me do or have ideas for me to try, I’m always up for changing my non-existant plans to something else. šŸ™‚