New Chum Beach and Kirita Bay

It was Auckland Anniversary Weekend, and the weather looked good, so on Friday morning we headed down to Coromandel with our kayaks on the racks. We had hoped to stay on the edge of Whangapoua Harbour, but we weren’t the only ones to have this idea and all the freedom camping spots were taken. In the late afternoon, and desperate to get in the water for a swim, we called in at the Kuaotunu Motor Camp and found they had a site vacant.
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White Island

For the last couple of days, our view has had White Island steaming gently on the horizon. We have both wanted to visit for ages, and even made a booking once, which was cancelled by wild weather. When we inquired at the Opotiki I-site yesterday and discovered that the conditions today would be as good as they ever get, we knew we had to head straight for Whakatane.
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The Low Isles

We had such a good time snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef yesterday that we decided to do it again today, and booked ourselves on one of the Sailaway catamarans. Their trip is to the inner edge of the reef, about 15km off shore. The wind had dropped almost completely overnight, so we didn’t get to actually sail, but the water was almost flat, and perfect for snorkelling.
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Our plan for Anzac weekend really only extended as far as visiting Felicity’s cousin for dinner and spending the night outside his house near Parua Bay, just north of Whangarei. We were only a couple of kilometres away when there was a terrible vibration and smashing noise from the rear of the campervan, so I pulled over to the side of the road just opposite the yacht club. All the rubber tread on one tyre had de-laminated and was lying on the road about 20 metres behind us, so it was obvious we were going to be a bit later than expected.
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Motutapu Outdoor Education Camp

The Motutapu camp at Administration Bay is an ex-WW2 military facility that is now used mostly by school groups for outdoor education. When it is not full of school kids, members of the public can book the old barracks for group events. One of Felicity’s colleagues has a great love of the island, and decided to hold a weekend party to celebrate her 50th birthday.
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Felicity is not normally a person who responds to on-line adverts, but the when a message appeared on her tablet one cold grey morning at breakfast offering a very cheap five night package holiday in Samoa, she checked her diary and discovered a mostly free week. We had hoped to enjoy some summer weather during our recent Scotland trip, but it just didn’t happen, so I think she felt a bit deprived.
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Waiheke Church Bay to Owhanake

Felicity wanted to meet with a colleague who lives on Waiheke Island yesterday, so we raced into town in time to catch the 9 o’clock ferry. It was a beautiful day to be on the Waitemata harbour, and there were lots of boats heading in all directions.

My eye was caught by a very strange launch that I have seen in the distance a couple of times. It looks a bit like a submarine sitting high in the water. At the back a hatch in the side was open, and it seems the crew can drive a smaller vessel inside like a garage. As we were watching, another very strange craft with a huge bow and tiny cockpit came zooming up (unfortunately it’s not very clear in my photo).

I went for a wander up the hill behind Uma Rapiti farm while Felicity was talking in the house below. Auckland city is in the far distance.

The first half of our walk followed the coastal path where they hold the annual sculpture exhibition. Even without the artwork it is a spectacular journey.

Not long after passing the wharf at Matiatia, we found a comfortable leather couch under a pohutukawa tree, just above the high tide line, so we borrowed it for half an hour to eat our lunch.

The track on this part of the coast is much more rugged, but just as scenic. We were impressed by some of the flash houses we passed. A few even had their own heli-pads. One property had an olive grove with a small stone wall around each tree.

The coastal track ends at Owhanake (my predictive text thinks I’m trying to write “own a naked…”) but we found a newly renovated set of steps leading up hill to a trig. I don’t know if this is the highest point on the island, but the views were impressive.

We were expecting to be on the road from that point on, but another track seemed to be heading in the right general direction so we followed that downhill. When we finally did hit the road we were delighted to find that we were only a few hundred metres from Matiatia, so by 3.30 we were sitting on the wharf drinking a coffee and waiting for the ferry home.