After our first amazing night on the Coromandel, my parents, Andy and I had a nice breakfast at our quirky bach and made plans for the day. We decided to head for Waiau Falls down the old, unpaved 309 Road, which cuts across the Coromandel. I’d stopped there a couple years ago, and I knew we’d all enjoy it.
We were the only ones there when we first arrived, so it was a great time to get up close to the falls for pictures.
I’d only been to the top of the falls the last time, so it was cool to explore further downstream.
We continued along the path hugging the river and came upon a wonderful, peaceful spot. It’d be great for a swim if the water wasn’t so chilly.
Although we could’ve easily spent all day exploring this area, we decided to head a bit further up the 309 Road to do a walk through an ancient kauri grove.
These towering giants never cease to amaze me. They’re few and far between in most parts of NZ, but due to protective measures and replanting, hopefully they will continue to reign over the forest for centuries to come. Many of the remaining ones are hundreds of years old.
Back at our car, we made a quick cafe stop before heading off the 309 and taking the winding (paved, thankfully) main road across the Coromandel to Whitianga, our next destination. On the way, we stopped off to take advantage of the sunshine and explore the seaside. We got very lucky with early autumn weather!
Really, who can beat a beach like this?
Not much further along the road, we came to the oceanside town of Whitianga. We’d booked a house for two nights, so we dropped off our stuff and then decided to go on another beach wander before dinner.
So. Many. Shells!
We had a great dinner at a restaurant by the estuary and even got to see some great constellations overhead on the walk back to our bach. No matter where you are in New Zealand, the stars are incredible, but especially so in smaller towns, or even better, in the middle of nowhere.
The next morning, we headed out to explore Mercury Bay. First up, a hike to the top of the Shakespeare Cliffs for an unbeatable view over Lonely Bay (in the foreground) and Cooks Beach (in the distance):
Thanks to an American “comedian” and his wife, who were also at the lookout, we got a great group shot.
On the way down the other side of the cliff walk, we followed the trail through a copse of trees. I love this spot!
More great views greeted us further along.
As we got back to beach level, I spotted a tree that looked like a perfect perch. Maybe my climbing skills aren’t what they used to be…
Thanks for capturing that, Andy. I look a bit like the creepy girl from The Ring.
Ah, well. I recovered.
The high tide stopped us from going any further along the beach, so we climbed up to the road. We saw signs for a cafe and headed in that direction. Not before my mom found another great photo op, though.
Yet another quirky NZ cafe, this place had sculptures everywhere, interspersed with flowers and colorful decorations.
Plus, what cafe could be complete without a cute dog?!
Poor thing was very curious but a little timid.
Join us next time as we adventure to Narnia and one of the most unique, eccentric wineries I’ve come across. Only in NZ can you cover both of those in one sentence!