Marilyn & Paul's New Zealand Trip 2014 travel blog

Mercury Bay

Stapletons in Coromandel

Coromandel to Thames 1

Coromandel to Thames 2

Coromandel to Thames 3

Coromandel to Thames 4

Coromandel to Thames 5

Kauaeranga Valley - Shag Stream campground

We headed on up and around the Coromandel Peninsula today to Coromandel itself and then down the west coast to Thames. We decided to avoid the notorious Highway 309 (apparently very scenic but partly gravel and rather narrow/tortuous for large vehicles), and we are very glad we did. The views from the more-coastal (but also very hilly) Highway 25 were fantastic. Conditions were a bit grey and hazy to start with, but by the time we reached the spectacular descent into Coromandel the skies were becoming much clearer.

Coromandel is a lovely 'heritage' gold-rush town which, although becoming a bit more commercialised, still felt quite sleepy and local. The local fish smokery supplied the centre-piece of our dinner this evening (smoked salmon), and delicious it was too!

Our favourite guide-book 'Touring the Natural Wonders of New Zealand' (thank-you Julia & Tom for your brilliant present!) gave us the impression that the section between Coromandel and Thames would be relatively uninteresting. Not so! The first few miles until we finally dropped down to the coast at Wilsons Bay were absolutely breathtaking (see photos, although they can't really even begin to capture such astonishing vistas). From there onwards though the road simply clings (quite precariously in places!) to the shoreline, so without the wonderful deep blue sky sand the amazingly vivid blue/green waters at every turn the drive down to Thames could undoubtedly have started to become a little tedious.

Thames itself was actually quite characterful and charming for such a large town, but our main target was the nearby Kauaeranga Valley. This is approached via a slow and tricky (latterly gravel) road, and the helpful i-Site in Thames had warned us that the Visitor Centre closed at a rather early 4pm, so we knew that we would arrive a few minutes too late to secure a 'powered site'. This turned out to be to our advantage though, as instead we had to 'freedom' camp in the adjacent 'Shag Stream' field. This was actually a much more pleasant location, where our only (distant) neighbour was a lone camper who, with his quirky attire and distictive head-gear looks uncannily like 'Roger Red-Hat' (for those familiar with that particular reading scheme)! We even have our own resident hen, although we are not holding out much hope for fresh eggs in the morning!

87 miles driven today

2412 total miles driven

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