The start of Stray Travel

Thames Travel Blog

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View of Auckland from the crater of Mount Eden

Another early start this morning and Andy and I battled against the traffic to get me to the rendezvous on time. As we pulled up the driver was just finishing up the pick-up and I was lucky to load up. The bus had 10 other people on; 2 British, Tom & Helen, 5 Swedish, 4 German and 1 Korean, Eriko. We started by heading up Mount Eden, one of the 48 dormant or inactive volcanoes that litter the Auckland area and looking out over the city, the sea, and island Rangitoto where we visited yesterday. For the first time all week the sky was bursting a little blue finally,and the view was something to appreciate. Up at Mount Eden, 'Noddy' explained how the trip works. We are all booked onto various lengh 'passes' round the North & South island. Mine is 23 days long and covers most of the country.

Hahei beach
There is a bus that leaves every day to complete a set itinerary so you can book on the bus each day or stay extra days wherever you choose and catch the next Stray bus that leaves. In this way you get a new 'group' every day so you can choose to stay with a good group or hang back and wait for a better group. Our group seems pretty cool so I am staying with the bus until Abel Tasman which is about 5 days I think, and I have booked my seats and activities for the next 2 days.

We passed first through Thames, a colonial town halfway to Hahei and a good place to stop for cheap clothes and food at the hypermarket.
Me at Cathedral Cove
Since I have been wearing 5 thin layers all week and still feeling cold I thought I would go find a scarf and gloves, especially since we are heading south eventually which will be colder, but unfortunately they have teir summer season wear already in. I bought a couple of jersey tops and some thick socks! The town itself didn't seem especially worthy of comment, but Noddy explained that many of the houses were visbly colonial (not in the way we are familiar with) and dated by the width of the planks used in construction. Thicker planks were from the original Kauri forest that used to populate the landscape. Kauri was the principle building material until it caught on and soon 95% of the British naval ships were built from Kauri so the forest is less dense than it used to be. It will take 1000 years for the forest to regenerate to the level it was.

Each day there is a description of the destination and at least 2 choices for activities; 1 or more paid activities, and a free option. So today, we were due to go to Hahei bay on the Coromandel coast; the choice was between kayaking round the volcanic attractions in the sea, or walking a coastal walk to Cathedral Cove. Since I am still all kayaked out I naturally chose to do the walk! We arrived at Hahei and checked into Paradise on the Cove, a camping site beside the beach and nestled at the base of beautiful hills. The campsite makes me nostalgic for some of the more beautiful campsites we have visited in the UK. It's like the most beautiful I have visited, and then with beach and forest as well.

The others got ready to go kayaking and Eriko, Helen and I got ourselves ready to head off to Cathedral Cove. We walked down to the beach and picked up the trail at the end. It rose steeply to the top of the cliff and then dipped towards Gemstone Bay and then to Stingray bay. We walked to both, down steep steps, and then shortly after had to walk right back up again! Cathedral Cove itself it a little beach with a hollowed cave through a headland joining one beach bay to another. There was a little wedding taking place at the end of the beach - I'm pretty sure they didn't walk the hour and a half there we did!

Back at the beach we watched the kayakers come in and then went to meet them at the hostel. I read the newspaper before dinner; I picked up some English newspapers in Auckland. It makes me feel a little uneasy that anything could be happening in the world and I wouldn't know about it when we see no television and remote towns in Oz and NZ couldn't care less what's happening - we could be at WWIII and we wouldn't know! As expected though, politics is the same, education is the same, NHS is the same, situation normal....

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View of Auckland from the crater o…
View of Auckland from the crater …
Hahei beach
Hahei beach
Me at Cathedral Cove
Me at Cathedral Cove
photo by: pinkpeardrops