Friday, March 29
Our visit in Tauranga was finally at an end, and the sense that our trip was almost over was overwhelming. Everyone was a bit teary saying goodbye, but the time had come and we packed up the camper for the final leg of our trip.
We still had three more days until the flight home, enough time to tour up the Coromandel Peninsula and back to Auckland for the trip home. To make the situation more challenging, the coming weekend was a long one in New Zealand, lots of people would be heading to the resort sites and RV parks to catch one last nice weekend before winter really set in. Stacy had wanted to check out Hot Water Beach, but a quick call up there showed it totally booked for the weekend - and we couldn't wait around for them to clear out.
With the camper, we could make do even on the side of the road, so we decided to take a chance and just see where our noses led us.
A few short hours later we were into the Coromandel Peninsula and reached the first decent sized down - Whangamata. Richard and Stacy had stopped here briefly the previous year, this time the weather was great and the beach busy, so it was time for a stop and visit.
The beach visit was so pleasant, we checked out the info center and found an RV camp right in Whangamata - that even had some sites left. So, without any significant planning, we'd found our first site in the Coromandel, albeit right at the beginning.
Our short bit of driving today meant we'd have to make serious progress tomorrow - all the way to the northern end of the peninsula and its namesake, the town of Coromandel.