When you travel from Europe to New Zealand you figure like four weeks is a minimum I should plan. I spent four weeks in New Zealand and I must admit I could have easily spent two more to fully embrace and enjoy the countless beauties of this far away country. One of the areas I could have stayed a few days longer was the Coromandel Peninsula on the North Island. Just a few hours by car from Auckland, the Coromandel Peninsula has the packed New Zealand beauty on one peninsula. Due to my limited time budget I opted for the big must-sees on Coromandel: the famous Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach on the eastern coast of the peninsula.
To discover both aforementioned places it is quite practical to stay in a small littoral town called Hahei. And if you head to Hahei you want to stay in the lovely Church Accommodation – it is a cute settlement of little bungalows in a lush garden and the entire complex including the adjacent restaurant is built from a reconstructed church from 1916. The bungalows are cosy and come with a private mini porch to sit and enjoy the lush greens and the colourful blooms all around you. The Church restaurant is a fantastic and unique place serving delicious food and boosting you with enough energy for the famous Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove. Why energy? Here’s why.
To experience the Hot Water Beach you need to stick to a few rules. First and foremost: You can only experience it during low-tide and a few hours before and after it. Luckily most accommodations in the area will have exact time tables informing you about the daily changing low tide time. If you are lucky like moi, you will head out to the Hot Water Beach at 7 am – shovel in your hand, bathing trunks on, towel and thermos with coffee in the backpack! Do not fret if you discover you are not the only one – you certainly wont’t be, not even at 7 am on a cloudy day. The magic of the Hot Water Beach is its underlying hot water streams that can be used as a private jacuzzi once you dug your own hole. But be aware of the fact that this is only possible in a very limited area at the beach and make sure you always dip toe first as the water can get really hot! Once you’re settled, sit down, lean back, and enjoy the thermal experience – with a fun bunch of all kinds of people!
The Hot Water Beach experience in the morning is quite cool in fact – after an hour of cooking yourself you can head to the little hidden Hot Waves Café and spoil yourself with a good organic breakfast before you stop by at the Moko Art Space and shop some local Kiwi art as a souvenir. All well worth the early rise!
The other must-see in the area is the famous Cathedral Cove. Some of you might have seen it even without ever going to New Zealand as it was the place where a scene of Narnia was shot. Cathedral Cove can be easily reached from Hahei by car – or by foot if you want to walk uphill. If you opt for the car, be prepared to be patient as the car park on top is rather small and the popularity of this beach rather big. Once you managed to park your car, a walking trail will lead you through native bush along the coast with stunning views – all the way down to the hidden cove. Cathedral Cove is amazing as the Pacific Ocean can be rather harsh here making for an almost surreal atmosphere. Surfers love the waves and good luck snapping a photo without other people – that’s a hard one:-) If you like to spend some time there take everything you need with you – the beach has no amenities at all so bring food, drinks and a towel!
The Coromandel Peninsula has way more to offer but I just had no time to stay longer. For me it was time to move on to the central parts of the North Island. I’ll take you there in my next New Zealand blog post. Stay tuned!
Photography / iPhone Photography by Igor Josifovic