Day 15 - Cruising to Coromandel


Day 1 - Arrival
Day 2 - Raglan to Urenui
Day 3 - The Long Road to Levin
Day 4 - A Day with Granny
Day 5 - A Wellington Wander
Day 6 - The Tour to Taupo
Day 7 - Rolling to Rotarua
Day 8 - The Redolence of Rotorua
Day 9 - The Beach at Bowentown
Day 10 - Outtrip to Ohope
Day 11 - Meander over McLaren Falls
Day 12 - Mission to Mt. Manganui
Day 13 - Shopping the Strand
Day 14 - Wistful in Whangamata
Day 15 - Cruising to Coromandel
Day 16 - On the Road to Orere Point
Day 17 - Departure

Saturday, March 30

Today was the big driving day - all the way up the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, to the northern tip (well, not the VERY northern tip, they don't allow RVs up there) and the namesake of the peninsula, the town of Coromandel.

The girls "break camp", packing up their bed and putting things away so we can leave. After two weeks, they're pretty quick at it. Dad hangs out at the gas station, waiting for the propane tank to be refilled.
Caitlin takes a picture of herself in the mirror. Caitlin just plain takes a picture of herself.
Down the spine of the Coromandel is a good-sized set of hills, heavily covered in trees. Further on, we get close to the eastern coast and get a peek at the ocean.
Richard and Caitlin walk back from a view point high up on a ridge. One of the rarest of creatures, even in New Zealand, the elusive Mr. Whippy ice cream truck!

Our first major stop of the day came around lunch time at the town of Whitianga. Amazingly, Whitianga is considered the spot where the Maori, under their leader Kupe, first arrived from Raiatea (near Tahiti) in 950AD. The area was named Te Whitianga-a-Kupe, meaning "Kupe's crossing". This is one of the few places to ever bare the name of the Maori leader that first came to New Zealand.

Now here's the amazing part - in November 1769, Captain Cook arrived in New Zealand in virtually the same spot! To be certain where he was, tracked the passage of Mercury across the Sun and was able to compute the exact longitude, effectively "putting New Zealand" on the map.

Cook named the area Mercury Bay. He also named the river the town was situation on Oyster River (because there was lots of oysters), although it was originally named (as is usually called) the Purangi River. The township was originally situation on the eastern shores of the river, but in 1862 the amount of lumber being harvested and cut was so great, they needed more space and built the mill on the western marshy side.

It took two years for most everyone to move to the eastern side and the town on the western side was essentially demolished. The name "Whitianga" was officially adopted in 1938.

When we arrived, it was fair time, and serious shopping ensued.

Once of the pioneer homes of Whitianga, built before electricity, air conditioning, etc... notice the veranda running all the way around the house, shading the windows to help keep things cool. The girls ponder their purchasing opportunities. This part of the fair was set up in a park and they sold produce, small wooden objects, perfumes, clothing, bird baths...
Back on the road, the weather is looking decidedly ominous. Then it was raining.
And the road turned very tightly. You try moosing an RV around 25km corners in the rain! A peek down onto the town of Coromandel. We're still a couple of kilometers (and 500 meters of altitude) away.
At the crossroads of Coromandel - the main drag goes left and right of here. To the right and a short way up the road is the town hall... the visitors center is nearby as well.

We explored around the town and bought a few odds and ends we needed, then checked out the visitor's center to find an RV park to spend the night. Turns out there was a big one not ten minutes away and right on the water... and, with the weather turning poorly, there were lots of spaces to be had (although there were still a number of long-weekenders out trying to make the best of it).

Caitlin in the trees at the RV park. Alex against the tree in the RV park.
The tide is out! And the bay is big!
Caitlin takes off her muddy shoes before going in the RV. At the edge of the tide line are sea birds.
Walking back, we spy these seagull looking birds doing something very silly - they're splashing their feet in the water. Here's two of 'em doing it! Presumably this stirs up the mud and lets them find food, but it looks ridiculous.
Mallard like ducks invade while we have dinner... "Hey dude! Got any food?"

The sun set quickly, we had a quiet meal. A lot of driving today, and the RV procedures are well practiced, to the point of tedium. Tomorrow would the last full day in New Zealand.