Once we rolled out of our Papamoa driveway, we set our sights on the many adventures ahead. Knowing we had to meet up with Evan who was arriving in Auckland after the weekend, we mapped our route based on that.
The first stop was in the Coromandel. Our Airbnb was a beautiful spot that had a lot more in store than we could have imagined.
We wound our way up and around to the Eastern side of the Peninsula to Pauanui – a sleeping town with some stunning views. Our holiday home had one wickedly steep driveway, with something we’d never seen before – a car carousel (which in theory is fabulous, but the parking on a little wooden lazy Susan to be twirled around in close quarters can be a bit ridiculous).
The driveway was one story-making experience that this steep Peninsula town offered us, providing all sorts of insight like: how to keep calm when your car is rolling backwards into trees and fence despite giving it gas in gear, how to somehow us a pedal e-break to stop such rolling to commence, how to park your car with only 3 wheels touching solid ground and how to do some sick burnouts in a Nissan Tilda. All in all we figured out the parking situation with only a few raw nerves.
Here you can see why we initially were quite taken with the property and our spot for the night:
As we enjoyed the deck and some had a round of tic-tac-toe, I did a little research to figure out dinner plans. To my surprise, during my internet perusing, I found a 100% gluten free restaurant just down the road and eagerly made a call for reservations!
Things were pretty sweet. As we were organizing ourselves with trips to the cars for luggage, we began a different experience. Although most of the property couldn’t be faulted… it did have one terrifying death trap.
The garden steps that lead from the deck to the grassy parking area.
They were overgrown and unkempt and as Charles was going down to retrieve some things from the car, one loose step unexpectedly gave out and put him in a tailspin. Grasping for something to stop his fall, he reached for the only thing around- a post likely left over from some sort of railing, and instead of helping it just caused more trouble!
Sadly, this split-second tumble had us making a hasty phone call for medical attention which lead to a frantic 1 hour car ride to a clinic we hoped would still be open when we arrived, a sprained ankle and several stitches.
Ugh. What a time to be had! We had such high hopes for our stay, and though our trip wasn’t ruined, it really put a damper on things for a couple days. We had a sympathetic host who didn’t offer much more than an apology, but this incident lead to a very different few days as sprained ankles don’t tend to like hikes and strain.
Thankfully, we’re a crew of people who aren’t willing to let a rough start ruin an amazing country. A country that covers a large part of medical costs associated with accidents, a place that offers diverse landscapes, fabulous coffees, kind people, wonderful meals and generally allows you to enjoy your stay.
SO having met some of the most lovely medical professionals, we were on our way back to Pauanui for a GF feast.
The Lime Room is a 100% gluten free restaurant set on a picturesque golf course. The food is fabulous. The owner is thoughtful and kind (extending concern for Charles as soon as we arrived- having heard of the ordeal while the rest of the crew was there in time for the reservation). If ever you find yourself in the area, do give the place a try- whether or not your gluten intolerant… you’ll love it. Fresh, tasty, local and all around fab.
Day 2 in Coromandel was filled with all the touristy things. On a sunny Sunday, we weren’t the only ones with the idea and had trouble finding parking to hike down to Cathedral Cove. Instead of hiking, in the end we all went on the water taxi and were able to take in some of the beauty from the ocean.
Once through with the cove, we headed to the Pour House for our last meal with just parents and us. Having been diverted on our tour of White Island, my dad and I were to head back towards Whakatane for the night before our tour while everyone else went up to get settled in our Auckland Airbnb before Evan’s early morning arrival.
As we parted ways, Joel was able to make a quick stop on Hot Water beach for the moms to invite themselves into other people’s pools 😛 and dig around with their feet for springs along on the beach. I think they had fun!
Whakatane and the Island
My dad and I had been hoping to visit White Island for some time. It’s an active marine volcano that we could often see pluming from our Papamoa house. We hit a bit of a speed-bump with our plans when we weren’t able to do the tour on the day we’d planned (due to conditions) or our 1 flex-day (due to a fully booked tour), so it took a little maneuvering to make it work.
Thankfully, we’re travelling with flexible people who are so sweet and encouraged us to find a time to go. Both my dad and I were really happy to have made the trek.
We arrived on Sunday evening, and went up to a look out to take in the view and have a fast food picnic.
With confirmation from the tour company, we were set to depart the next morning at 9:30am.
We packed up our supplies, loaded up the car for a long drive post-volcano, grabbed a quick breakfast and a few seasick prevention items before checking in… with the 25 Junior High kids on our boat. Ha…
We left the dock on a catamaran headed for the smoking mass and thoroughly enjoyed our ocean voyage. Dad was eager to chat up the skipper, who had some Canadian connections and I appreciated the sight of the island slowly becoming more clear as time passed. The anticipation was mounting!
It’s pretty incredible to come upon such a force of nature. This was something on my NZ bucket list, so I was thrilled to have had the chance to set foot on the island.
We were transferred from the catamaran onto an inflatable to taxi us to the island, and it’s tough to describe the sights. It was otherworldly, surreal and beautiful all at once.
We were assigned a guide and instructed to follow closely in their footsteps as part of the land’s crust is deceitfully thin, and could easily result in your foot boiling off. The colours were remarkable and the history of the place- having housed a sulphur mine year before, where workers signed on to 3 month contracts where they were required to camp on the island- was intriguing.
We were given hard hats, gas masks and ‘lollies’ to keep us safe and to appease our hacking lunges as we breathed in hell’s exhaust. Real cool.
Once we’d taken in all we could, we had a bumpy trek back to the main land where a hefty drive awaited. We broke up our trip with mixed-berry ice cream at a fruit stand (fresh and fab) and an impromptu stop at a little big market event at the Mount.
They had set up food and craft stalls to celebrate the arrival of the first overnight cruise ship (a ship we ended up following as we met up with them again in the Bay of Islands a few days later), and I took the chance to introduce dad to Johney’s dumplings (a BOP must).
Once refuelled in every sense of the word, we headed towards Auckland to meet up with the now 5 others. Exhausted, we arrived to our odd little Airbnb to explore the largest city in the country.
Joel had retrieved Evan the morning dad and I were on White Island, and was a fantastic tour guide, showing off some of our favourite city spots- many that have become tradition: One Tree Hill, Mt. Eden, Giapo & Kushi Japanese Kitchen.
Once we were all together again, we had some warm days to enjoy together. We were able to hang out on Takapuna Beach, rock jumping, beach-combing and finally enjoyed a lovely lunch break on the patio at Takapuna Beach Cafe.
My dad was really pleased to have a view of military ships coming into port as we had lunch, too (it’s like they knew he was gonna be there).
From the beach we headed to Takapuna’s strand of cute shops and cafes. We parted ways for a little while to allow for some shopping and wandering, we enjoyed the eclectic vibe of the neighbourhood as well as some treats at Bluebell’s cakery.
We then revisited Mt. Eden so my dad could check it out, and finally we headed to Achilles Point for a view of the city from high atop a cliff (which somehow I didn’t get a picture of, but here’s my dad posing with some Maori carvings at the point- he thought they were pretty great).
Our time in Auckland was rounded off with the memory of some incredibly hard beds, sunshine, traffic jams and going to see “Arrival”. We packed up the cars to go 2 separate directions yet again!
Joel and Evan went to see White Island for themselves before circling back for a caving epic in Waitomo. Me and the parents went to enjoy the Northern sunshine in a really lovely bach overlooking the sea. We all planned to meet up in Taranaki after a few days.
I think I’ll leave those adventures to another post, though 🙂