There is a time for pedalling like a boss to make great kilometres. This was a time for not pedalling so much. The Cathedral Coast is really something else, a place to pause and be still. Beautiful sandy beaches, tens of islands, volcanic wizardry and great local beer. Hahei is a great place to unwind. It reminds me of going on beach trips up the coast back home in Queensland, Australia. But this is on another level, an eleven out of ten.
Coromandel – Hahei Beach
Distance: 51.9km / Time Moving: 4:31hrs / Elevation: 987m ~ Strava Ride Data
We head off after the girls this-morning. It’s become apparent Dave and I are slow at camp pack up. We catch them down the road and decide to ride with them over the climb today on The 309 Road to Whitianga, suggested by locals. It’s an unsealed road, but without the traffic of the main road. It’s a good option and we find ourselves just out of Whitianga lunching beside a creek, feeding this pony.
We soon roll into Whitianga and after a quick food shop and downing a tub of yogurt between us, we convince the girls to continue on with us to Hahei. Here we can base ourselves for a few days and explore this stunning area. Cathedral Cove especially. Arriving into Hahei we spot The Coromandel Brewing Co and stay to sample a beer, their Saison, and enjoy the last of the afternoon sun before we head down to make camp. Really nice way to wrap up the days ride. Camp is great, tucked behind a wind break twenty meters from this view early next morning.
Rest Day at Hahei Beach
Distance: 17.1km / Time Moving: 1:28hrs / Elevation: 436m ~ Strava Ride Data
Sunrise over the Islands the next morning is pretty special. After breakfast we walked from our camp along the beach slowly making our way along a long winding coastal trail to Cathedral Cove around the corner. Dave and I decided to run bare-foot. It was a bad choice. Take shoes, or thongs (flip-flops) at least. The soft sandy beach turned to gravel trails which wrecked havoc on our feet to the girls laughter 🙂 I can imagine it was entertaining to watch us hop about like the ground was lava.
Along the coastal trail from Hahei Beach to Cathedral Cove we came to this stunning lookout with views for days. Honestly it was just out of control beautiful. We could see the white cliffs of Cathedral Cove ahead of us to the left and to the right Hahei Beach of which we just came.
Cathedral Cove does not disappoint. Time for a swim and warming back up in the sun!
This shard of Sandstone below is just incredible in person. From the front edge it is like a blade only a few meters thick at the base reaching tens of meters into the sky.
Later in the afternoon we decide to cycle over to Hot Water Beach. Yes, it’s a thing. You do need the tides to be spot-on to get the full experience. Basically you take a shovel and build spa’s out of sand to contain hot water as it bubbles up through the sand due to volcanic activity underground. Some sections were incredibly hot and the steam coming out of the ground was deadly! We caught the tail end of what was good tide height, so just enjoyed the novelty of it all standing in pockets of hot water as the waves crashed in and knocked over some of the ‘installations’ people had dug in hours earlier. It’s pretty cool, it was quite busy but worth the visit if you haven’t seen anything like it before.
Hahei Beach – Whangamata
Distance: 64.6km / Time Moving: 5:53hrs / Elevation: 1,287m ~ Strava Ride Data
Last night we’re lucky enough to catch the moon rise over a calm ocean with the Islands of Hahei beach scattered in the foreground, beverages of choice in hand. It’s a really calming place Hahei, love to find myself back here one day. Todays ride was all about covering ground to get south. There wasn’t really anything on our radar. Just hills and more hills to admire and enjoy over the day.
Home tonight was a simple caravan park in Whangamata. After setting up we scoped out the camp kitchen, which was a good setup, it had an oven! We returned from the supermarket with quite a load of veggies, I mean a lot! I think we must have eaten a head of broccoli and half a cauliflower each, oven roasted in a creamy sauce in the oven. Delicious. One thing I’m enjoying about cycle touring is all the food you get to eat!
Whangamata – Wahi
Distance: 30.6km / Time Moving: 2:16hrs / Elevation: 673m ~ Strava Ride Data
Wahi is on the map for one reason, gold! And still today they are mining here. The town has a bypass via the main road around it, but its worth taking the detour to see some of the old mining setup and the huge open cut mine which is still operating as of November 2014. In the morning as we set off Dave and I had the idea of heading to Tauranga in our minds, it would be a 100+km day. It just wasn’t going to happen though. Too many kilometres to ride. With less than a week left of our short two week trip, Dave and I decide to scoot ahead to Rotorua via the Naked Bus. They take bikes most of the time (space allowing) and it was no problem for us to get them on board. Here in Rotorua there is much mountain biking to be done, it’s a mountain biking mecca, we want to have a few solid days here as there is much more to this town than just riding. The road from Wahi to Rotorua is mostly National Highway and logging roads (big trucks carrying timber) so it’s not exactly the most enjoyable to cycle. We say bye for now to the girls and hope they can join us at the end of the week as they make their way to Rotorua at their own pace.
The last hour of the bus ride into Rotorua is really nice. We are joined by two other cycle tourer’s from Canada with the same plan, skipping some of the major highway to get into Rotorua. It’s a nice change of pace to simply watch the hills and forest whizz by the windows!
With a base of Rotorua for the remainder of our trip, we take a few days enjoying Rotorua ‘tourist style’ and take a few days exploring some of the Whakarewarewa Forest Park, pronounced ‘Fuka-rear-wa-rear-wa’ with a sneaky day trip to Lake Taupo. One of the highlights coming up is the stunning Redwoods, seen below, in Whakarewarewa Forest.