Back in late April, early May, Sarah and I managed to escape the madness of Auckland city for a few days R&R in the Coromandel. At the time I was waiting to start a clinical trial of a drug for my Lymphoma that was pretty much going to be the last roll of the dice for me. If the trial didn’t work there were no other options left. (You can read about my Lymphoma journey here) So I guess writing this blog took a very low priority at the time. Each time I’ve opened my blog since I realise there are tales of travels that remain untold. This blog then is the first of two to correct that situation.
We had decided to head firstly to Thames and then find somewhere nice to stay along the coast north of there. We had travelled just over thirteen kilometres when we came to the Waiomu Domain. Despite the sign above showing no camping, there actually is an area here set aside here for freedom camping.
We had obviously timed our arrival perfectly, since there was a space available within the freedom camping area. After initially thinking that we would just to stop to have lunch and a quick explore, before moving on. We soon confirmed the adage that often we are too hasty moving on when we should be taking our time exploring.
This coastline is not exactly renowned for it’s white sandy beaches with most of the bays very rocky. I think there is probably a big kid in all of us waiting to explore the rocks. If not then just sitting there in the evening watching the sunset over the sea was just spectacular. As a place to spend the night it had a lot to offer including clean, well serviced toilets at the entrance to the domain. I would imagine that it would be almost impossible to find a space during the height of summer. People would probably be waiting in the carpark for you to leave so they can grab your space.
The autumn leaves in the local park were just spectacular. Had I been feeling a bit fitter we could have taken the 2 hour return walk that leads to a stand of Kauri trees. Along the way you can visit the remnants of an old gold stamping battery from what was one of the most productive gold mining areas of the Coromandel before it burnt down in 1933. The walk is very well reviewed on Google and will be something we do on our next visit.
When we first arrived in Coromandel the plan had been to take advantage of the NZMCA camp saver program and stay at the Long Bay Reserve. However once we had driven into the camp we found that all the sites had been badly affected by recent rain and were very muddy. I know that’s not really an excuse for not staying but we decided to move on and stay at the local NZMCA Park.
The last time I stayed at the NZMCA Park in Coromandel it was with two of my three sons and well before the ground had been covered in gravel. Its always nice to stay on grass but knowing how soft the ground is underfoot here, gravel is the correct decision. More by good luck rather than good management we had timed our arrival perfectly to visit the seafood festival that was being held in the school grounds opposite the park the following day.
Coromandel town is really well set up for freedom camping with a number of spots set aside in the local carparks. My favourite one, I think the one that backs onto the local stream providing a very pretty outlook especially during autumn. There also appeared to be quite a nice Park Over Property (#1957) located just out of town in Hauraki Rd but since it was a grass surface this wasn’t the time of the year to be staying there.
As all NZMCA members will know there is a policy around keeping your animals under control while visiting the park. That however probably doesn’t apply when its the animal doing the visiting. From what I could see from Facebook posts and another blog at the time, this cat treated the Park as its second home. It certainly made itself at home while Sarah gave it some love and attention before it decided to move on.
The following morning we decided to give the festival a little while to get up and running and then wandered over the road looking forward to some seafood tastings. After having paid a small donation to the local school as the entry fee we joined the small crowd looking at what was on offer. We did do our bit to help support a local artist by buying a couple of bird prints as a birthday gift for Sarah, from the stand featured above.
Sadly calling it a seafood festival somewhat exaggerated what was on offer. There were four stalls selling “seafood” as long as you count mussel fritters and smoked salmon as seafood but absolutely no fresh fish. Rather spoiling our plans for dinner, we did end up buying a dozen oysters packaged and sold by the local oyster company. But all in all we walked away disappointed with what we had seen. So with only the oysters for dinner it was time to move on. On the positive side I am sure it brought lots of the community together and raised some funds for those that were there.
Getting from one side of the Coromandel to the other involves a fairly steep climb in the motorhome no matter where you do it. The views once you reach the top are however well worth it. So it is here, where you can look back down at the town or across to the otherside. If you are much fitter than I am there is a walk (90 minutes return) from here leading steeply uphill to no doubt even better views. Another walk we will leave for another time. From here down the hill for a few days R&R at Simpsons Beach.
To view the places we have visited click here to see them on Google maps. You can then click the link to read the blog about that area.