Well yet again it's been a while!
We escaped Auckland to the magic of the Coromandel Peninsula for my birthday. It was truely a world away from the city, though didn't take us long to drive there.
Stayed for two days in Coromandel Town in a great backpackers - the best yet. Very hippy and laid back, went to possibly the best coffee place, that I really didn't want to leave (though I think my cookies are better). Had a trip on a railway up a mountain! Brought pottery. Spent time in a tiny fascinating museum learning lots about mining for gold. We also visited the Waui Waterworks - very bizarre, but great fun.
We then drove over to Hahei to stay in a campsite on the beach. The drive was lovely and despite not being able to find New Chums Beach (a mission set us) it was great stopping at little places picking up local honey and gorgeous organic lemons.
The campsite was quite large and I imagine can be a nightmare in the summer, we however were the only tent, so got a great spot.
I woke on my birthday to blue skies and walked along a deserted sandy beach, paddling in the refreshing clear blue sea, I had a tear or two thinking about Nan, home, friends and family. All however was good, as we went on a kayaking trip to Cathedral Cove (think beginning of Prince Caspian). We had walked there the night before and it was just a stunning as I imagined it would be. The kayak trip was great, going into little cave and learning about the area. We had a great coffee made for us on the beach by our guide (they do this a lot in NZ) and had time to rest and explore the beach more - including the most photographed rock in NZ. The a little ocean crossing we explored more islands, caves and waves.
When the trip was over I couldn't resit any longer and swam in the sea, the fish were all around and it was freezing - well very cold - but it felt great.
Off then to Hot Water Beach, all a bit odd if you ask me but for 2 hours either side of low tide you can dig a hole and create your own hot pool! Hot it was boiling - I'm talking burnt toes! Well that's when you find the hot water, not as easy as its made to sound in the guidebooks.
All is not lost though, a course being NZ there is a great cafe and we had a rather tasty 'Waves Platter' for lunch. Then after a bit more browsing in art galleries and buying watercolours by local artists, we collapsed by the tent and I cooked up a rather tasty pasta supper.
We had by now had a fair bit of the sun and had found it quite warm, beginning to burn I took to the shade with the locals telling me "it's only spring - it gets much hotter than this"
The next day brought some shade but we headed off to Whitianga, via the ferry at the oddly named 'Ferry Landing'!! Here we tried our hand at bone carving, quite impressed by our efforts, more impressed by the patience and understanding of the two owners who guide you through each step and let you loose with rather dangerous looking equipment. Well we have our necklaces now and very proud we are too.
So there you go, highlights of an exceptional trip...a wonderful birthday. I was spoiled with great parcels, messages and cards arriving like a torrent before and after my trip - no I didn't wait till my birthday - everything was ripped into with joy and passion as it arrived. I have loads of thank yous to send....and of course the next trip to prepare for (The Abel Tasman Track in November).